Ready to take the next step in your career? Visit the career center closest to you. Learn more.

February 8, 2023

24-year-old Michael Lane was facing hard times. He was living out of his car, jobless and unsure what to do next. Living on his own with a minimal support system, he spent a lot of his free time at his local YMCA, where he would shower and work out to decompress. There, he got connected to the H.I.R.E program and began receiving the support he didn’t even realize was possible. We spoke with Michael about what he learned in the H.I.R.E program and how his life has changed since joining. 


It was hard trying to make it on my own in San Diego. I’m originally from Indiana and I moved out here before the pandemic. I enrolled in school and was doing okay at first, but I was surrounded by negative people and after some time, I started to feel stuck and lose my drive. I ended up failing a math class and dropping out of school to focus on working full-time since I was always broke. During the pandemic I moved back to Indiana to save up more money. When I came back, I decided to live out of my car to save money on rent. At the time, living out of my car didn’t feel like the worst thing since I’ve been through worse situations, and all I needed was a solid place to sleep, food and access to a shower. I had a car for shelter, a membership at the YMCA for a warm shower and enough money to feed myself. I thought I was okay.

When I was at the YMCA, I would talk to staff and sometimes see people pass out flyers about the San Diego Workforce Partnership. Then, one day I was talking to one of the managers at the YMCA and they told me about their Helping Individuals Retain Employment (H.I.R.E.) program which helps Black young adults who are not in school and are experiencing barriers to employment find a job. I needed a job, so I decided to check it out.

Working with H.I.R.E. was not easy at first. As a young man from a single-parent household, asking for help doesn’t come naturally. I had a career navigator and a mentor with whom I struggled to speak with at first but was eventually able to open up to them. When they asked how I was doing, I would feel embarrassed and always say everything was okay, even if it wasn’t. It took me months to get comfortable, letting them know what I needed and how I was doing. Once I started to trust them and feel more comfortable making a request, I would let them know what I needed to feel supported, and they would do it.

Through H.I.R.E., I started taking online courses where I learned basic life skills like how to write a check and sustain myself as an adult. Some of the skills seem simple to others, but for someone like me who didn’t have anyone to show me growing up, the courses meant a lot. I joined thinking they would help me get a job; I didn’t know they could provide more stability for me. They offered me so much like life skills, job training, interview prep and a mentor with whom I could speak openly and honestly with. And to top it all off, they provided me with the resources to pay bills and a stipend for every training course I completed. This help allowed me to stop living out of my car, obtain housing and move into an apartment.

After completing the life skills training, I got connected to another nonprofit, Creating Coding Careers, and became an apprentice where I am learning skills to become a web developer while getting paid. With all the new skills I am learning, I am on my way to obtaining a career that will benefit me in the future and I will no longer have to work low-paying jobs.

I know a lot of young people my age believe working odd jobs that will hire you quickly is the way to go. But what they don’t realize is that they are selling themselves short. I had to learn the hard way, but I want others to know that if they are willing to do the work and put in the time, better options are available and will lead them to a sustainable career.

Connect With Us
Stay in the know

The Workforce Partnership is dedicated to providing San Diego Residents with the most up-to-date resources for finding a career.

Subscribe to our newsletter.