Monday, September 29, 2008

A little background info.

I decided at the age of 12 that I was tired of seeing my single mother struggle. I watched my mother sell almost everything in our home (furniture, jewelry, electronics, appliances, etc.) by holding weekly garage sales and posting ads in a free publication, the PennySaver. We were almost homeless. I knew things weren't getting better when our car was repossessed and we were six months behind on the mortgage.

I definitely felt like I needed to live up to the title of "man of the house" at the age of 12 and decided to get myself a job. I mowed lawns, washed cars and worked at a convenience store after school. I wasn't earning much but being able to pay for my own stuff, buy groceries and pay the utility bills for us felt good. At 14, I was waking up at 3 a.m. to work at a donut shop and remained at this job until I was 16 years old. I didn't have to get paid "under the table" anymore, so I started working two legitimate jobs the day after I turned 16 in July of 1999. I worked for Arco (AM/PM) and McDonald's for the whole summer. My shift at Arco began at 6 a.m. and only consisted of cleaning and stocking. Since I wasn't 18 yet, I could not be a cashier. I would leave Arco at 2 p.m. and begin my shift at McDonald's at 2:30 p.m. My shift would usually end at ten but sometimes they would need me to cover for someone else or help close so I would be there till midnight.

Six months later, I found a job working at Ralph Lauren Footwear which paid better and had a small amount of commission. A few months after landing this job, I was able to purchase my first brand new car on my own. After finishing high school early and while waiting for my friends to finish so we could walk and graduate together, I took on an additional two part-time jobs. At this point, my schedule consisted of 32 hours at Polo, 12 to 20 hours at Pacific Sunwear and 24 hours at a grocery store. This period of nonstop labor demonstrated to me why I needed to attend college.

After my graduation, I moved to Los Angeles to attend Santa Monica College. Within two weeks of moving to L.A. and after a few part-time job offers on the table, I chose to work for Bed Bath & Beyond. A couple months into classes, the professor of my business class assigned a project where we had to do research on a company of our choice and try to get as much information as possible on the internal structure and operations. I chose Nordstrom as my company after reading The Nordstrom Way. After a month into the project and an interview later, I landed a sales associate position with the brand new Nordstrom at The Grove near the Beverly Center.

I also joined the Rotaract Club on campus which invited local business owners from the Rotary Club. I became the treasurer of the club, but also organized events that our club could participate in such as Heal the Bay and a September 11th car wash fundraiser.

Los Angeles gave me inspiration and something to look forward to. The city and people that I met there helped make my vision clearer for the lifestyle I picture myself leading.

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