At 24, Jerry Hendrix can draw a direct line from TeenQuest to his current position at W Capital Partners, a private equity firm in New York City. During the 2006 Summer Youth Initiative, Hendrix secured a job with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint, where he would continue to work for the next six years.
After telling his supervisor at the time about his interest in finance, his director spoke with a board member who worked at Citizen’s Bank. That connection resulted in an interview that ultimately turned into a two-year internship.
“By making one call, Bob (my supervisor) put me on the path toward an internship, and eventually a full-time career in finance,” Hendrix says. “Without TeenQuest/SYI, I may have never met Bob and wouldn’t be where I am now.”
Below, the Grand Blanc High School alum talks about his current job, TeenQuest and more.
What does typical workday look like for you?
I conduct due diligence on potential investment opportunities and monitor existing investments in the firm’s portfolio. My job’s emphasis on attention-to-detail, problem-solving and financial expertise is both fun and challenging. I find myself learning something new and interesting every day.
How did TeenQuest help prepare you to pursue your career?
While TeenQuest did not teach me the technical skills to be successful in my current position, it provided the essential soft skills that are the basis of any career – no matter the area of focus. Basic skills like problem resolution, timeliness, teamwork and communication are invaluable in any work place, and provide the foundation upon which one can build a successful career.
What is your proudest work-related moment?
When I was able to tell my mother that I had been offered a full-time investment banking analyst position at Bank of America Merrill Lynch after my summer internship in New York in 2013. After working an average of 80 hours a week nearly 7 days a week for two months, the offer was the validation of not only my hard work that summer, but of all the effort I had put into my education and the previous jobs and internships that had come before – including my time at the Boys and Girls Club as a result of my participation in TeenQuest/SYI.
A major part of TeenQuest is teaching students how to "Stand up and stand out" to future and current employers. What advice can you offer in terms of making a positive impression in the workplace?
NEVER be afraid to ask questions. Any employer hiring you is expressing their implicit trust that you have what it takes to be successful in your position. However, no one expects a new hire to understand every aspect of how the business works or how to most effectively play their role.
If you want to add value to a team and make a positive impression, ask your managers and teammates for guidance on how to most effectively do your job. You don’t know what you don’t know, so asking questions is a great way to find easier, more efficient ways to get work done.
The reverse is also true – if you know of a more efficient way to get a task done than the current method, pose your own solution in a constructive manner. Constant, constructive communication is a major key to success in any team.