Steven began his Juma journey in a way many young people do: he needed a job, and Juma was one of the few places hiring youth with limited experience. But at Juma, he would find much more than just a paycheck. Read on to find out how Steven’s Juma experience gave him a new outlook on life, new goals, and the confidence to move forward toward his dreams.
What inspired you to join Juma?
I was looking for a job and couldn’t find anywhere that I felt comfortable working. Then I got offered the Juma job through my school. I’d had an internship with Rite-Aid before but it didn’t work out well because I didn’t feel comfortable there. They didn’t treat their employees very well. They offered me a job when my internship ended but I couldn’t accept it because of what that work environment was like and how late the hours were. It was also in a pretty bad neighborhood. They assumed I was able to act like a security guard because of how I look but I didn’t have training. I felt too young to handle those challenges.
When you started at Juma, what was your first shift like at the stadium ?
I started at the Golden 1 Center. It was crazy! It was a whole other experience. Just being with hundreds of people and interacting with them, and seeing how everything works was overwhelming. Being in this atmosphere where everyone is happy and excited—some are drunk— was just crazy and overwhelming.
What are some things you’ve learned while working at Juma?
One major thing is how to take charge and become a leader. I’m very shy naturally, but even though I’m still shy, thanks to Juma, I’ve been able to come out of my shell. I was able to reinvent myself a little. I feel more confident in everyday life. Being a leader I had to overcome a lot of obstacles and be really dependable. The staff made me feel so supported. I felt like I could take on these challenges. I felt cared about right away. I have a hard time trusting people sometimes but right away, meeting everyone at Juma, I felt like they were serious about helping us and they meant what they said in the interview. When I was able to be comfortable it was like I could come out of my shell and really get behind this.
Working at the ballpark I’ve learned about cash handling. I have a very hard time with numbers in general and when I first started working as a cashier I was freaking out thinking I’d mess up counting and things, but they reassured me that it would be fine and that it would take time for me to get the hang of it. The cash register does most of the counting and I’ve also been picking up skills like how to count money faster, all these little skills I wouldn’t have thought I needed but have ended up helping me in regular life too.
Before Juma, I faced certain challenges like….
An extreme timidness. I am very shy. I never got out of my bubble before Juma. I was a very closed person. I never talked to anyone that I didn’t need to talk to.
Juma helped me overcome those challenges by….
Joining the program and going through everything the program has to offer, both program-wise and work-wise, I was able to feel more comfortable in my skin. It changed everything. I was able to redefine who I was. I’ve had a feeling that I can do this. I never believed in myself much.
What would have happened without Juma?
I’d probably still be extremely shy and timid. I wouldn’t be able to have this conversation right now because I was terrified of talking to people. I also just had a really hard time believing in myself. Having that realization, that the more I believe in myself the better I can become, that did wonders for me. Now I’m confident in what I do and I’m confident in a lot of my life choices. I feel more at ease and more in control of my life.
What is support like at Juma?
It’s like a family. Very open. You can tell right away that everyone cares and they’ll do their best to help you in whatever way they can. Even my coworkers. We all come from different places but understand where each other are coming from. We’re all connected by this experience. We’re all trying our best to stay on the beaten path and we did it.
Earning money, what have you learned about money at Juma?
I’ve learned that it’s important to save money at a young age because that money can really make an impact in the long run. I knew vaguely that this could be important before but now I really get it. Through all of the trainings we’ve done and hearing a lot from the Juma staff and the guests speakers they brought in really made me believe in saving. Managing my money in a responsible way, too. I’ve learned about just overall being smart with money.
What is one good piece of advice you have received?
Never get too comfortable in anything you do. I was told that the more you feel comfortable the less you challenge yourself. Always open new doors and try new things. For the longest time I was just running the food at Golden 1 and being given orders, and I was doing what I was supposed to do, but then a Juma manager pushed me to try new things. She said she’d seen something in me and she wanted me to try being a barista, so I did, and it changed my whole view on everything because I was able to do something I didn’t think was possible. I was able to create something and be proud of it. I loved making something and giving it to someone.
What are your future goals?
They were actually impacted by Juma a lot because before I thought I might be a psychologist but now I want to start my own nonprofit. I want to make something I’m proud of. I was very indecisive before Juma but after six months at Juma I realized I wanted to help people. I wanted to hear their stories and relate or help them. There’s a lot of people who think they don’t need help and I used to be one. I used to think that only weak people asked for help. Juma changed that. Juma helped me do a complete one-eighty in my worldview.