During baseball season at AT&T Park, there are a handful of daytime games in which we rely on volunteer support to help us staff our enterprise. On these days—which we call JumaDays—volunteers step into the shoes of our youth and become ice cream vendors and baristas for the day.
So far this season, we’ve held a JumaDays event nearly every week, starting with the San Francisco Giants season-opening home game against the Seattle Mariners. At the recent Giants game against the Washington Nationals, we asked our volunteers about their first jobs and the skills they learned that helped them in their careers.
Here’s some of what they said:
Kristen Stringer, VP of sales at ADP, said her first job was as a 15-year-old shampoo girl at a hair salon in Alpharetta, Georgia, called Golden Shears. She described how hard it was to shampoo a customer’s hair with one hand while, with the other, hold the water hose steady. “If you let go, it’s a snake,” she said. “Happened to me twice.” Her customers were drenched both times. Her boss told her, “You’re horrible at shampooing, but you’re great at talking to customers.” So, instead of getting cut from Golden Shears she was given a “promotion” to the front desk, where she greeted customers and scheduled appointments. Now, as the VP of sales at ADP, Stringer said she makes hiring decisions based on whether a candidate demonstrates good customer service. She studies how they interact with others, how they read a room. “It’s something that’s learned,” she insisted, “And you learn it on the job, working.”
This was the third time Venus Lieu-Scheurich, who works as a client support specialist at Nasdaq, had come out for JumaDays at AT&T Park. The last two times, she’d worked at one of the stationary carts. Now she was determined to vend in the stands. “I want to challenge myself,” she said.
Having grown up in Oakland, Venus said she’s always had an affinity to help urban youth because “the kids don’t get a lot of hope.” The U.S.-born daughter of Chinese Vietnamese immigrants, Venus said she wanted to give back. “So even though I’m not a big fan about watching the game, I am a supporter of this cause—plus, I get to exercise.”
Her first job? Working for her high school math teacher, doing office work, which she called ironic “because I didn’t like math. Luckily, my current position doesn’t require a lot of math.
Nick Hanson, who works in sales at ADP, was a top earner as a volunteer at the last JumaDays. “I didn’t win for most sales,” he admitted, “but I made the most tips.” Which he generously donated back to our youth. To our volunteer vendors, he offered these tips of advice: “Look for corporate groups in the crowd. And when you make a sale, talk to customers about Juma and they will buy or tip more.” Last time he was vending at AT&T Park, he was talking up Juma to the CEO of a startup and after sharing Juma’s story, the guy bought $100 of ice cream.
Jennifer Dippe, also in sales at ADP, was a swim instructor at the city pool in Sebastopol, CA. It was her first job and the one lesson she’s taken throughout her career, she said, is to “keep it fun.”
Kendra O’Donoghue, our new San Jose Site Director, said her first job was at a ceramics shop in San Jose as a 17-year-old. She described her experience as “eight-hour shifts with way too much responsibility.” She thinks now that teenagers should not be left in charge of firing hot kilns. Especially without proper training. “There was nothing in place,” she said, “And I never saw my manager. I had to figure out what customer service meant to me.” She remembers one clear incident when she got a call for an appointment for a group of women celebrating a friend’s 45th birthday. “And they wanted to bring wine.” Kendra recalled the challenge: “How do I give these women an experience that would make them feel as if this was the Best. Time. Ever.?”
We want to send a huge shout out of thanks to our volunteers in San Francisco and Seattle who have been hitting it out the ballpark since opening season. Thank you for supporting our youth from underserved communities. Sharing your personal stories about your first jobs only drives home Juma’s belief that “It starts with a job.”