From high schooler to retail rock star

Youth shopping retail

This Way Ahead has helped many young adults get their foot into the retail world. A program of the San Diego Workforce Partnership supported by Gap Inc., This Way Ahead helps young adults ages 16–24 from low-income communities develop skills for a life-changing first job. Participants receive 20 hours of pre-internship training, followed by a guaranteed interview for a summer internship at a Banana Republic, Gap or Old Navy store.  

Brian Quincehuatl entered the program with charisma, determination and a strong work ethic. Brian completed 20 hours of work readiness training and completed a 10week internship at Old Navy. “This program opened doors for me,” says Brian. “I was given a helping hand throughout the entire processfrom learning how to interview to scoring my first job.” He was so successful in his internship that Old Navy hired him on as a brand associate.  

Here Brian tells us more about his journey to employment.

How did you find out about This Way Ahead?

I discovered the program through my engineering teacher who told me it was a great opportunity to work a summer internship. As a high school student, it is crucial from me to save up for college, and without this program, I really didn’t see myself landing such an amazing job so fast! This really gave me the opportunity to save up money and feel successful. I’m proud of myself for jumping on this chance to seek work and turn my summer break into something productive for my future self.

What’s your greatest takeaway from your internship with Old Navy?

Something that I learned through this internship is to never settle for less and to do more than what’s expected because you never know where your work ethic can take you. If you go above and beyond in your work, you will standout and succeed in one way or another—that’s my biggest piece of advice for future interns!

How did your work readiness training help you succeed in your role as a brand associate?

The readiness training that I received helped boost my confidence and gave me the presentation skills I needed to own my interview. I was given a detailed breakdown of what employer’s search for in a candidate, which helped me build my resume, stand out from the rest and raise my chances for locking down my first job.

What advice would you give to other high school students seeking their first work experience?

A piece of advice I would give to anyone who’s looking for a job would be to keep a positive mindset no matter what challenge you’re facing at the time or might come across on your path to employment. I know it’s hard to not get a call back after an interview or not even land an interview in the first place, but use those experiences to help you gain confidence as you move on to other opportunities.

My advice to high school students: Use the free resources that are out there! Keep an eye out for programs that are recruiting young adults. At the end of the day, it’s not always an easy journey but as long as you keep pushing, the moment you finally land a position tastes that much sweeter.