Davontia Porter came to the 100,000 Opportunities Initiative Fair and Forum in Seattle hoping to connect with a few job recruiters. He didn’t expect to find himself sitting across the table from Starbucks chief executive officer Howard Schultz.
“I was anxious at first, but as it went on I felt more relaxed,” Porter said. “He took the time to ask questions and really listen to my answers. He was understanding, and talked to me just like he would anyone else.”
Porter, who received his GED certificate in 2012, was among the more than 1,000 at Seattle’s hiring event, which brought together top U.S. companies to help engage young people with meaningful jobs and career paths. In the Seattle area there are an estimated 50,000 youth between the ages of 16 and 24 who are disconnected from employment and education.
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“My journey was just like everyone else’s,” Porter said. “But I’m willing. I’ve got an attitude that nothing can break me. If I’m positive, then how can I be negative?”
Porter and Schultz talked for about 20 minutes. Schultz asked him about his life and the challenges he had faced. He also asked about his approach to customer service.
“I was surprised by how open he was to me,” he said. “I felt comfortable for the first time in an interview, like I’m not being judged. Like I belong.”
After his interview with Schultz, Porter spoke to a Starbucks recruiting manager and was hired for a barista position on the spot. He says he’s considering enrolling in the Starbucks College Achievement Plan with Arizona State University, with full tuition reimbursement to all eligible partners.
“ASU, see that’s a blessing,” said Porter. “If everything goes out right, this will be a real life-changing moment.”