Jacob is more than just an employee at Cafe 50, a restaurant and coffee shop on the Microsoft campus; he’s an Ambassador. The job title is printed on his uniform apron, and he points to it proudly.
“He has a huge sense of pride,” says his mother Jeanette. “It’s his first real, paying job. He has a uniform. He’s treated like just another member of the team.”
Jacob got his job busing trays and tidying tables at Cafe 50 through Northwest Center's Transition Services team and School-to-Work, a King Country program supporting students graduating from high school to find a place in the workforce.
It was a big deal for Jacob, who lives in a small town east of Seattle, to find a job he loves.
“We started out with a different employment agency,” says Jeannette. “Until we connected with Northwest Center, we were only exploring things in our very immediate community; it was very, very limited. Northwest Center listened and really understood that I wanted to explore more than just our small town. Jacob got a wonderful job, which he loves.”
Jacob is a man of few words, but his enthusiasm for his work is obvious. He moves quickly between tables, removing used cutlery, stacking trays, and keeping a sharp eye out for departing diners.
“I clean tables two days a week, Monday and Friday,” he says as he wipes a tabletop.
Is it a fun place to work?
“Yes!” he says emphatically. “I get to see my friends [and coworkers] Darian, Jessica.” When one of the other Ambassadors interjects, “Tell them what you like to do for fun!” Jacob laughs and says, “Get the head chef’s hat.”
“He’s making friendships that are not just at school; they’re actually people out in the public," says his mom. "That’s really huge.”
But the fun Jacob has never impacts the hard work he does.
“We get busy right about now,” Jacob says, surveying the lunchtime crowd. “When Darian goes on his lunch break, sometimes I take his trays, too. Just to be helping out.”
Jacob jumps in to help his coworkers and does what needs doing, without prompting from others.
“We love Jacob. He is so smart,” says Hany, a barista with at Cafe 50 for more than 12 years. “He wants to help. He knows how to do things because he watches us.”
“He’s taken the initiative to do his job,” says Jeannette.
Jacob has also taken the initiative to talk to his boss about what new tasks he can learn and how he can grow in his career. Whatever skills he ends up mastering, it’s clear that Jacob plans to learn them at Cafe 50. He says with certainty, “I’m staying here.”
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