Abby started her Juma journey the way many young people do; in need of an income. She was out of school and out of work, without a plan for moving forward. But all of that changed once she started with Juma and saw the support, resources, and opportunities available to her through the YouthConnect program. Abby worked at Centurylink and Safeco Fields for six months and worked with her Program Coordinator to explore what she wanted to do next and set a plan to reach that goal. Today, she works full-time at Costco Wholesale, one of Juma’s employment partners. She also attends South Seattle College where she is working on her Associates Degree in Nursing. We sat down with Abby to learn more about her Juma journey how the YouthConnect program had a powerful impact on her future:
When you started, what was your first experience like at the ballpark?
I had really bad anxiety because I’d never worked in a stadium and there were a lot of people. Having a great team really helped with that. They didn’t just throw me into making drinks, they had someone next to me showing me step by step how to prepare coffee and how to handle the customer service…I learned how to really get to know my teammates and work together well.
What kinds of skills and lessons did you take away from your Juma experience?
One thing that I learned at Juma was how important it is to grow my network. Juma had events where we could learn to connect with people and talk to new people. Recently I had a meeting with my employer, Costco, where I had a chance to connect with higher level managers at the company and talk about ways to move up and how they wanted us to think of Costco as career rather than a job. Juma helped me prepare for that.
How did your time at Juma inspire or motivate you?
Before Juma I was really struggling. I wasn’t going to school or even thinking about going back but at Juma I realized I needed to go back to school and finish my degree to start a career. Juma motivated me by showing me options. The program helped me to be less shy and get out of my bubble. It helped me learn that if I’m curious about something I should just go for it and not be shy about taking advantage of opportunities.
In the YouthConnect program, you earn a paycheck and also receive Financial Literacy classes to help you make the most of your income. How did that affect the way you manage your finances?
At Juma I learned how to save money. I began saving little amounts and I was eventually able to get a car. Now I use my car to get to work and school.
Where do you think you would be if you had not enrolled in Juma and graduated from the YouthConnect program?
I’ve actually thought about this a lot before and I’m so glad I found you guys. Things happen for a reason. Without Juma I wouldn’t have finished school. I wouldn’t be in college. I wouldn’t be working at Costco and making all these connections. I wouldn’t have the car to get to work and school. The support was amazing.
If you had to give new Jumans one piece of advice, what would it be?
Never give up. Some days will be hard but it’s worth it. Just keep going and things will get so much better.