Success Stories | Tyler J

Rough Beginning 

Tyler at workTyler’s story begins from a place that many of us would not like to imagine. He came from a physically and mentally abusive home, and suffered back injuries as a result. He had to learn to manage the pain while being grateful for all the good in his life. 

Tyler’s home life was never stable growing up, moving from one house to the next, being passed to different family members, and ending up in the foster system. He moved out on his own at the age of fourteen, and was temporarily homeless, until moving in with a friend. 

Finding his passion 

From an early age, circumstance, a strong will, and an optimistic outlook have given him the passion to seek the knowledge, tools, and people he has needed to pursue a career in Culinary. While in Junior High School, Tyler volunteered with one of his foster mothers in the lunchroom at his school and found himself fascinated with food and cooking. 

Now at the age of eighteen, he was ready to embark on a career in the food industry. Having only volunteer experience and no driver’s license or resume to present himself to an employer, Tyler knew he needed help. 

This is where Eckerd Connects and the Youth Connections Program came into the picture. Tyler sat down with his Career Coach and talked about all the things he wanted to accomplish. He was looking for resume writing skills, interviewing skills, cooking certifications, actual hands-on work experience – and he wanted to learn to drive. 

Accomplishing his goals 

Tyler holding a plaque

Eckerd Connects was the perfect answer. With pre-employment training classes and an internship opportunity with The Source’s “Dining with Dignity” program, Tyler was ready to start his journey to success.  

He earned his certification as a Food Handler even before entering the internship with The Source. After completing his six weeks, he was presented with a plaque as a graduate of their Culinary Program. 

Next, it was time to learn to drive. Tyler passed the Department of Motor Vehicles’ required Drug and Alcohol Course, passed the Roads & Signs test, and was granted a state of Florida Learner’s Permit. Tyler stayed focused and completed all his goals. 

Putting it all together 

Using the professional resume and interviewing skills he learned, Tyler landed a job at Firehouse Subs as a prep cook/crew member. He continues to practice his driving while gaining valuable work experience in his chosen career path. 

Tyler credits Eckerd Connects and the Youth Connections Program for helping him plot out a strategy for his culinary dreams to become a reality. 

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