If you’re in your first job search, or trying to figure out your direction in life, it can be tough to move ahead with confidence. Seeing success stories of people who have grappled with barriers, or managed to land their first job, can provide a source of inspiration and encouragement.
Whether you are a young adult seeking a career path, or an employment counselor for youth and young adults, check out these success stories from real people who have overcome challenges to achieve education and career success. Below is a brief summary of each; some are short profiles while others are complete videos.
- Joel: “About four years ago, I began to abuse drugs and was arrested several times. I was committed to a juvenile justice treatment facility. I earned two certifications that helped me get ready to work. Now I’m a high school graduate and I have two jobs. I plan on attending college to become a physical therapist.”
- Jorge: “I got help with immigration to get a work permit, then I got a Social Security number, that gave me the right to work. Once I got it – that motivated me. I got a certificate of arts in culinary. And now I’m here to tell you, all you’ve got to do is take responsibility to change your life.”
- Stefan: “A jobs program helped me get an ID, and they helped me get a Social Security card and start my own bank account. They sent me to a job as an intern at a welding school for 8 weeks. Out of five of us that came, I was the only one who stayed with it. At my job I cut pipe, cut plate, they enrolled me in welding classes. I got four certificates. They helped me get back on my feet.”
- Antoine: “I’ve got 3 kids, two little boys and a girl who I’d do anything for. Coming from a place with drugs, violence, and poverty to where I am now, I have a good career, a new car. I’m on my way up. I’m thankful for the opportunity. If you ever get an opportunity, don’t ever be closed minded and always have the best attitude moving forward.”
- Ashley: “I think my lowest moment was the first day I got to the shelter with my son and I actually had seen the living conditions. A shelter worker told me about the program and I jumped at the opportunity to train as a pharmacy technician…It’s given me a lot of skills. I really worked hard for the license and it definitely, definitely gave me a road map to a better living.”
- Cat: “I’ve been in the foster system myself. After drugs, prostitution, I was homeless, no job, no car. Then I got pregnant. I saw a flyer and decided I’d try a program. It was very scary. They helped with job training and how to be myself, how to be a professional in the world. Now I have three jobs, a car, and I have a home. It’s amazing.”
- Lonnie: “I was from a pretty low income family so I really didn’t have the money to go to college. First Generation College Bound showed me all about college and financial aid… when I came back a lot of the friends that I grew up with were incarcerated. I got a sociology degree, I’ve been at IBM for 13 years in the sales and technology field.”
- Gabby: “I did run away from home. I was doing drugs and trying to make money illegally. And I wasn’t attending school, or I would attend school and I’d ditch. I had a counselor there who’s just telling me there’s a lot of places out there that can help me. I graduated from high school and now I’m getting ready to go to college. I’m going to major in architectural design and drafting. I want to be able to build homes for people who are low income, but give them the dream home they’ve always wanted.”
- Alex: A youth program representative came to his high school class, where Alex talked about liking computers. They set up a 6 week work experience for him in a county IT department. “This program took me to the point where I go from a kid to an adult and I’m now three years ahead of the people who didn’t know what to do. They told me what to expect, how to react, what to do, when to do it, and the proper way to do it.”
Feeling their inspiration? Locate youth employment programs in your area by entering your location in the Youth Program Finder. Also see a video to learn more about how youth programs work.
If you work for a youth employment program anywhere in the United States and don’t find your program listed, let us know about your program at email@example.com, or stop by our table at the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals Youth Symposium in Chicago, December 9 – 11, 2019.
GetMyFuture, is a website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor for young adults to explore different careers, plan their education, and search for jobs. Teachers, youth counselors, and employment program staff, be sure to check out GetMyFuture’s User Guide for tips on navigating the website, worksheets and checklists, and direct access to all site video content.
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