Career Changer: Pursuing the American Dream
Original Story By: Chelsey Sleator
This story was originally featured on Schwab's Main Street Stories blog. Follow the link to find more articles like this one: https://www.aboutschwab.com/a-courageous-journey-forward
“It’s been quite the journey and I can’t believe that I’m here.”
As she arrived at the Westlake campus to begin her 5:30 a.m. shift, Gio B. paused to look at the illuminated Charles Schwab sign, and felt a sudden burst of pride. “I got a little choked up,” she says.
Gio was reflecting on the long personal journey that’s led her to this moment. It’s a journey that started in Bolivia, where Gio and her family faced many challenges.
As a single parent, Gio’s mother made as many sacrifices as she could for her family. But Gio had to help by taking care of her sister and working various jobs in addition to being a fulltime student.
“As beautiful as my country is, it was not a good place for us to live,” says Gio, who explains that rampant inflation was one of the reasons that made it difficult to stay in Bolivia.
“We wanted to pursue the American dream.”
In June of 2001 Gio and her family immigrated from Bolivia to the small Texas town of Keene to pursue a better life. But transitioning into this new life also proved challenging.
The only work Gio’s mother could find was as a meat cutter in a supermarket making $6 an hour. Gio found work at the same supermarket, but her main challenges were at school.
“None of us spoke English,” explains Gio. “And one of my teachers screamed at me because she didn’t speak Spanish; she was clearly upset that I was in her class. At that point, I didn’t want to go back to school. I ate my lunch in the bathroom and wished I could go back to Bolivia.”
With the support of her mother, who was determined to help her children build a better life, a meeting was held with the school principal. Gio was grateful for the support from her mother, and she points to this moment as an instance where she learned a valuable lesson about the importance of advocating for yourself and others.
A year later, Gio and her family moved to Fort Worth so Gio could attend an international newcomer’s school. While the school was better, Gio found herself in a bad relationship with a partner who wouldn’t allow her to continue her education. This was a low point for Gio, who says she felt like her voice had been silenced.
“I just knew I had the courage to find something more.”
Inspired by her mother, mentors, and the lessons she’s learned, Gio charged forward. She started her bachelor’s degree, found entry-level work at a financial institution, met her husband, Josh, and had a baby boy they named Mason. And when a manager position became available at work, Gio knew she would be great at it. So, she applied, but was promptly told that she “didn’t have what it takes.”
“When you doubt my ability to do something, it motivates me even more,” says Gio, who decided she needed to take another leap— this time with her career.
That’s when she ran across an opportunity at Schwab. Gio made an immediate connection with her recruiter and was thrilled when she was offered a position in Client Service and Support (CS&S) in May of 2017.
“When I was interviewing, I thought, ‘this company sounds too good to be true.’ However, it turned out to be a greater place to be than I could have ever imagined.”
While at Schwab, Gio’s obtained several securities licenses, finished her bachelor’s degree, added a master’s degree in business administration, and had another boy named Lucas. And in December of 2021, she finally proved her previous employer wrong when she accepted a leadership position in Client Banking Services, where she’s been able to apply the lessons she’s learned about the importance of advocacy to her team.
Gio’s message to others that may be struggling to achieve their goals, or who may have big obstacles to overcome, is to never give up and to stop trying to get validation from others.
“What you want to do with your life is what is most important,” she explains. “Do it for yourself. Be okay with who you are and continue down your path even if it takes a long time.”
Whiles she’s come a long way, there’s still more ahead in Gio’s journey, including welcoming a daughter, Gabriela, this November.
Original Story By: Chelsey Sleator