In 2012, Jerimiah Whitehead – then a sophomore at Carman Ainsworth High School – decided to participate in TeenQuest’s summer program.

A year later, he was invited to attend the Summer Youth Initiative (SYI) job fair, an invite-only event designed specifically for alumni of the pre-employment training program.

He attended and ended up securing a job assisting with the day camp at Flint’s Christ Enrichment Center. When he interviewed again through SYI the following summer, he snagged a position at Michigan Community Services, where he worked with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Over the span of those three years, Whitehead learned that employers want candidates who are passionate and confident.

Those qualities, he says, have helped him excel not only in his studies – he’s majoring in communications, with aspirations of someday going into law – but also in his job as a supervisor-in-training at Eastern Michigan University Catering.

“My work life is hectic,” said Whitehead, who is now 20 years old and a college sophomore. “I barely have time for anything else but the payoff is well worth it. It allows me to network – which is important – and gave me the opportunity to become TIPS (Training for Intervention Procedures) certified.”

Below, Whitehead talks about his job, school, ambitions, and how TeenQuest helped him achieve his goals.

What does a typical day look like for you at EMU?

There's never a typical day – which is good, because it appeals to my adventurous side. My classes aren’t anything like high school. We set our own schedule, which helps us learn to be independent and make responsible decisions.

What are your plans for the future?

I can’t see myself doing just one thing, so I plan to have multiple careers. I like to think of my future as a basketball team. My goal is to create a dream team where the players symbolize each career.

I am a people person, so human services is right up my alley. I’m considering law since fighting for the truth and defending what is right is the story of my life!

What has been your proudest moment in college thus far?

To be honest, growing up to become the man I have always hoped to be.

How has TeenQuest helped prepare your current job?

It helped me with the interview process. Group interviews can be tough, but thanks to TeenQuest, I’m always well-prepared because I stand up and stand out.

What are you doing to make yourself stand out to employers?

I feel the best way to stand out is to be yourself. TeenQuest taught me employers love to see passion and confidence. With those two things, you can’t go wrong!

 

This article was featured in the April 2017 issue of Afterschool Download, a monthly e-newsletter for friends of YouthQuest, TeenQuest and the Summer Youth Initiative. Also in this issue:

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