For an entire week, the high school senior filled out résumés — four or five a day.
“I was in desperate need for a job,” she said.
The hitch: Every place she applied wanted previous experience.
“Even fast food wants an employment history,” she said. “I didn’t have it.”
Now she does.
The 17-year-old is one of nine high schoolers getting much-needed work experience through the new Youth On Their Own’s Resale Home Store, 1642 N. Alvernon Way.
The shop, which opened in October, offers students semester-long, paid internships while University of Arizona Enactus students teach them about the retail industry. The kids also learn about job interviewing and get help preparing résumés.
They earn $9 an hour, which for these kids isn’t just movie money — they need it to survive.
The nonprofit Youth On Their Own helps kids who lack a consistent home environment and don’t have a parent or long-term legal guardian helping them. Proceeds from the store go to the organization, which doesn’t receive federal funding and expects to help about 1,800 kids this school year. It costs a little more than $2,000 a year to keep one student in school.
“Youth On Their Own has to fundraise every penny to help kids stay in school,” said Executive Director Teresa Liverzani-Baker. “These are at-risk kids falling through the cracks, victims of abandonment, abuse. Kids need stability, a place to sleep — things people take for granted.”
The midtown store is stocked with merchandise that’s donated but doesn’t look it.
Formerly Crizmac Art & Cultural Marketplace, the resale shop has two parts: a boutique up front with higher-end and new merchandise, including original pieces from local artists who donated their work, along with Mikasa china sets and Waterford crystal. A little patio boasts things for the garden while the back area has more of a thrift-store feel with items like a $3 camp chair and leftover supplies, like binders and desks, from the YOTO office next door.
“The beauty of the store is you don’t know what you’re going to find,” said Liverzani-Baker.
Students are responsible for putting together displays, pricing, running the cash register and, of course, customer service, which initially scared one participant who asked that her name not be used.
The 17-year-old high-school senior suffers from anxiety, so she was pleasantly surprised to learn — through shopper feedback forms — that she received high marks for her customer-service skills. Now she says she loves helping people.
“The one-on-one interaction is my favorite part,” she said.
Joyce Rodgers, a YOTO staffer who works with the interns, says it’s been great seeing the kids blossom.
“They were so shy and introverted,” she said. “They’ve come so far.”
And though she’s sad the internship ends this month, the girl who once filled out all those job applications — who hopes to go to Harvard Law School — feels ready to join the workforce.
“It will be easier to get a job after this,” she said. “It’s a great way to prepare yourself for the real world after high school.”