Hilda Colato, a 22-year-old who lives in Los Angeles, just got her high school diploma, and a job from a program called the LA Conservation Corps, which works with at-risk young people. Before finding the Corps, she had tried to get fast food work as far as an hour away from her home, but she kept striking out.
Colato talked with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio about her experience trying to navigate the job market.
On Colato's experience applying to entry-level fast food jobs:
There were times when I actually would have interviews. I had about two that they actually did call me back, but when I told them that I never worked at a fast food restaurant before, they’ll just be like, 'OK, well, we’ll give you a call back,' and I would never get that call back.
On why she was looking for work:
Well my main thing was my child. I had a baby when I was 16 so I was really trying to get a job because I had no money. I think she was like two at that time and I felt, like, useless, so I was like I need to go get a job as soon as possible.
On why she joined LA Conservation Corps:
Well, the main reason I turned to the LA Conservation Corp was because they had the high school diploma program. And at that time I was a high-school dropout because I was a young mother. That was my main reason, but when I got there, they started explaining to me about the job training program and getting paid and getting experience. So I jumped on it and I was like, 'OK, I guess I could do this.' If they are going to hire me on the spot, then why not?
On her future career path:
Well, my main thing is I really want to go to college. I want to do two years at a community college and then hopefully transition onto Cal State Long Beach and become a social worker... I feel like I could help families out because my family went through a lot with social work when I was a child, just because my mom was a single mother with six kids and we were all back to back. So we had a lot of social workers and at times I felt like they didn’t really help us out. They were more likely to want to take us from her more than help. So I feel like I’ve been there. I’ve seen my mom struggle, and if I become a social worker, I feel like I could actually put myself in their position and actually really help them.