How My First Job Helped Shape My Career

It was the summer of ’95, I was about to start high school. As the oldest of three children and only son, my parents felt it necessary for me to go beyond my routine chores at home and get a job. Both of my parents believed in “going to work.” My father’s father worked two full-time jobs to support his family. My mother’s father went back to work after he retired to support his family. Thus, the notion of “going to work” was in the very DNA of my parents; which they instilled in me.

A local bakery, Mom’s Bakery, in Philadelphia, PA, took a shot on a shy, soft-spoken 13-year old that lacked confidence. The bakery was owned by a lovely husband and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Bell. Mr. Bell was an expert baker. He did all the baking in the back, while Mrs. Bell ran things up front in the store. Both of them taught me valuable life lessons. I can still hear Mr. Bell’s voice saying, “when you speak to someone, look them in the eye.” I would be known for walking around with my head down. Neither Mr. nor Mrs. Bell were going to go for that. They consistently spoke positively to me. Over time, my confidence began to build.

After working at the bakery for several years, this shy, socially awkward teenager turned into an outgoing extrovert. I learned how to speak with confidence and effectively connect with all types of people. I'm appreciative of the opportunity Mr. & Mrs. Bell gave me. Today, I'm passionate about encouraging our young people to realize the greatness that lies within them. I truly believe they are the leaders of today, not tomorrow; tomorrow's too late.

It's immensely important for our young people to be given similar opportunities. I was thrilled when I read about President Obama's Summer Opportunity Project. It's an initiative for businesses to give young people, with limited experience and resources, their first summer job. Allowing our young people to enter the working world, at a young age, can be a pivotal turning point in their lives; it was for me.

I was inspired to write about my #CareerLaunch by reading the stories of President Obama and Russell Okung. What's your story? I'd love to hear it.

About the author...

Sam, "The Youth Dream Builder," is passionate about educating our youth. He enjoys helping young people realize they are the leaders of today, not tomorrow. He's currently building an organization that teaches young people how to properly represent themselves online & use social media to network into and through college & careers.

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