Learning from Surprising Offers

Deshawn Shepherd

Deshawn Shepherd is being honored as a Youth Jobs+ Champion of Change. 

One evening during the summer of 2013, I received a call from my aunt telling me that she had heard of a city funded program that provided jobs to youth. I saw this as an opportunity. I had no internet access at the time so I went to my school, Olive-Harvey College, to fill out the application. I filled out a lot of job applications last spring; so many that when I received a call in June stating that I had been selected to be a part of the One Summer Chicago PLUS program, I honestly had forgotten that I applied. The One Summer Chicago PLUS program offers young males a six-week work experience and provides additional skill development and adult mentorship to develop transferable career and life skills.

When I heard back from the program, I was directed to the Phalanx Family Services office where I completed an orientation and was assigned a place to work. I was a summer intern, along with about 20 other young males, at St. Stephens Church. Our many duties included assisting with the day care run by the church, working on neighborhood beautification projects, and hosting church events including a car wash and a candy stand that taught us about entrepreneurship.

I appreciated this opportunity, and after personally getting to know my fellow co-workers, I learned that they appreciated it too. Seeing that everybody was benefiting from the program in their own way inspired me, and throughout the summer I became eager to come to work every day. Our mentors in the program, Teia Sanders and Kenneth Wiley, were a very important part of this opportunity and taught us many essential skills such as how to tie a tie. The day after we learned this, they told everybody to dress up and they held a mock job interview. That experience taught me how to perform during a real interview, of which I had the following week. Thanks to that mock interview, the real interview went well and I was offered a job at FedEx Ground. 

Ultimately, I decided to focus on school for right now, and I am enrolled at Olive Harvey Community College, studying healthcare.

I am truly grateful for this experience. I learned a lot, both about myself and about the world. I will never forget my experience with the One Summer Chicago PLUS program. It will be something my family talks about for years to come!

Deshawn Shepherd is a 19-year old Chicago native from the Roseland community.  DeShawn attended Thornwood High School and earned his GED from Olive Harvey College in December 2012.  This past summer he participated in the One Summer Chicago PLUS job program, and worked at St. Stephens Church. 

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