Maria’s Story: Stepping Out of Her Comfort Zone

Feb 16, 2021 | Success Stories, YouthBuild

In late 2018, Maria B. drove by SERJobs Workforce Opportunity Center and saw a sign offering YouthBuild services. Fortunately, she stopped to see how SER could help and change her life.

Maria had experienced personal challenges, dropped out of high school, and was in dire need of resources to turn her circumstances around. So, she enrolled in YouthBuild that very day.

“I loved it from the first day,” said Maria, “YouthBuild helped me overcome my shyness and step out of my comfort zone.”

Maria was a hard worker. She studied hard and quickly obtained her GED.

“The GED classes were so easy for me – I was surprised,” said Maria, “and thanks to my coach and instructor, I got high scores.”

After that, Maria worked closely with her coach to find a job. In the meantime, she was referred to La Chamba Café + Careers for an internship. In 2018, SER established La Chamba Café + Careers, a social enterprise founded to blend the social mission of SER with the market-driven approach of a business. La Chamba was created as a platform to hire and develop young leaders, providing them with the skills and experience to prepare them for the workforce. Including communication, customer service, conflict resolution, professional dress, business etiquette, salary negotiation, conflict resolution, problem-solving, entrepreneurship, and the ability to function well within a workplace environment.

“I went to work at La Chamba and fell in love with it,” said Maria, “it did not take long before I was promoted to café lead.”

After a few months, Maria was offered another job opportunity that she felt would further her career.

“I was offered another job with higher pay and new opportunities,” said Maria, “but that did not work out for me.”

During that time, the manager of La Chamba resigned. SER staff appreciated Maria and all her hard work while there; she was the first one they thought of taking over the reins. So, when the staff reached Maria with the new job offer, she was thrilled.

“I came back to La Chamba in late 2020 as Café Manager and am so happy,” said Maria. “I see myself eventually owning my own business – maybe even a coffee shop – and I could never have accomplished so much without SER and YouthBuild.”