The world of work teaches us many things about ourselves, starting with our first jobs as teenagers. As we become adults, experience not only breeds wisdom, it provides powerful incentive to share those insights through organizations like the Portland Workforce Alliance.
Below, newly elected PWA board officers and new board members reflect on early life lessons, career advice and their reasons for joining the nonprofit organization.
Anna Yates, Swift
Best career advice: Follow your passion. If you love what you do, it won’t feel like work.
Most memorable job as a teenager: I spent a summer working on rental properties, which included painting, cleaning and building a fence. I learned the value of pre-planning your work and measuring twice and cutting once!
Something I learned in high school about work: Take pride in your work, no matter the task, because ultimately your work output is a reflection of you.
What draws me to serve PWA: The opportunity to share my experiences with students and help create pathways for them to find their future career.
Matt Hanson, Fortis Construction
PWA vice president
Best career advice: Challenge yourself to be better than the day before and you will succeed in whatever you do.
Most memorable job as a teenager: I worked as a counselor at a youth sports camp for a couple summers in high school. I was in charge of 30-40 kids, which was exhausting but a lot of fun. It sure gave me a new perspective and respect for the daily responsibilities of my teachers and coaches.
Something I learned in high school about work: People don’t expect you to know everything coming into a job. Just be humble, enthusiastic and ready to learn.
What draws me to serve PWA: I joined PWA because I believe that employers have a responsibility to invest in our future workforce. PWA provides amazing opportunities for our youth to learn about career options that they may not have known about otherwise.
Marcus Carter, Cloudability
PWA board member
Best career advice: “If I always did what I was qualified to do, I’d be pushing a broom somewhere.” – This quote is my personal reminder to act with courage in times of doubt.
Most memorable job as a teenager: My first job in high school was as a checker for a grocery store. I was in awe when I received my first check. I couldn’t believe the money was all mine. I felt empowered and thought I had the freedom to purchase anything. My understanding of money began to change as I learned to make decisions such as whether to spend my money on material things or seek ways to spend money on experiences.
Something I learned in high school about work: Work exposed me to the strengths and weaknesses people saw in me as a leader. Work also allowed me to build relationships with adults that could mentor me.
What draws me to serve PWA: I am the product of five brothers, two sisters, and four step-brothers. Growing up in a low-income family had its challenges. One of the many challenges is the opportunity to be seen, to be heard, and access to resources that release the weight one may feel associated with being a low-income family. Organizations like PWA influenced my vision of what I could achieve beyond my circle of friends, family, neighborhood, and dreams. My purpose with PWA is to make sure I do my part to break every barrier possible to ensure kids can pursue their path to success.
Rachelle Thurik, Nike
PWA board member
Best career advice: Maybe cliché, but there really is no finish line, and it’s hard work!
Most memorable job as a teenager: I spent my summer break working at a pillow factory cleaning and packaging pillows to distribute to retailers for $8 an hour.
Something I learned in high school about work: Make your vocation your vacation.
What draws me to serve PWA: The people and the mission. I grew up in a lower-income household/high school, and know how important it is to have people who want to see you be your best, have someone to aspire to and push you through life. If I didn’t have that I would not be where I am today. My hope is to be that person for the kids who do not have a lot of opportunity and/or privilege the way others do plus be the example that inspires them to achieve their best. I want to teach them that life is not perfect but you can be who you want to be.