From Barista to Corporate

Started as a Barista

It all started when I was 17.  It was Christmas morning, and I walked outside to see a brand new car from “Santa.”  Like every other kid that grew up in Alpharetta, GA – you received a car when you first got your license.  There was only one caveat to my new Christmas gift – I had to get a job.  Not only did I have to get a job, but I had to do it on top of playing two varsity sports.  I knew I could make it happen though because I wanted to keep my car.

I started looking at places around town that I could work at.  I came across Starbucks and saw that you had to be 17 to be a barista.  Immediately I thought about all the people that liked Starbucks, and I thought to myself, “man…if I’m a barista, then I could hook up any girl with a drink.  They’ll love me.”  Once I realized this, I started applying for barista jobs.

I was lucky enough to land a couple of interviews at a different Starbucks locations close to me.  At every location I interviewed at, I was either too young or too inexperienced to work at their Starbucks.  Right as I was about to start looking for other jobs, I got a call from a store manager asking to interview me that day.  I had to drive past 3 Starbucks just to get to that one, but I was determined to become a barista.  Fast forward a little bit; I ended up landing the job and starting that week.

Once I started as a barista, I realized that Starbucks was the type of place I’d love to work in their HQ.  I had never been to Seattle, but I dreamed of it solely because of the company.  My store manager made all of us feel like family, and he was so flexible with my schedule.

As high school went on, I continued working for Starbucks, while winning two state championships in basketball and playing football, too.  I ended up going to Stetson University, a Division 1 school in the Pioneer League, to play football.  While on breaks, I would come home and still go work at Starbucks for the holidays or summer (I needed the extra money and had to update all of our regulars on life! Starbucks felt like home).

College

Through college, I lost sight of my dream (working for Starbucks), but I ended up changed my mind quite a bit that got me back to it.  My mother is a nurse, so for a hot minute I thought I wanted to go into the medical field (major: Biology (1), then Integrated Health Science (2)).  After realizing that science was not for me, I switched over to the school of business, literally trying out every aspect – International Business (3), Family Business (4), Accounting (5), Finance (6) – until I landed on the one part I enjoyed in school, Marketing (7).  Those numbers after each major are the number of times I changed (LOL).

I was not the best student in the classroom, but I had two goals in mind – 1.  Have a job before walking across the stage.  2. Make sure that job is in Seattle with Starbucks.  So, I realized that I had to make up for the lack of grades with my work ethic by landing internships and networking.

Internship #1

Internship number 1 was unpaid, and it was not the most fun that I had working.  I believed at the time that I wanted to work in finance, so I networked on LinkedIn with a bunch of people in the finance industry.  I sent email after email until I came across someone who played for the same high school football coach as I did.  He got me in contact with his boss, and I was “so impressive” that he made up an intern spot for me.  Fast forward to the summer of my internship – since I was not paid, I had to work the closing shift at Starbucks to make some cash.  I knew in the back of my mind though that I needed to do it to get to where I wanted to be.

That summer, I was given the opportunity to tour Starbucks HQ and sit in on some of the leadership meetings.  Throughout my two weeks shadowing and being in the building, I was lucky enough to sit down with many of the leaders and express my interest.  I made sure I received business cards from each of them and continued to stay in contact after I left as well.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the building and this only solidified to myself that I wanted to work there.  Not to mention – I got to meet Derek Jeter, while I was there!!!

Fast forward to the end of my internship and summer – it’s time to head back to school for my junior year.  I knew that this year I had to play well in football. And land the internship with Starbucks this summer to get my foot in the door.  I did my research on Starbucks and realized that not many college grads work there without having an internship there first, so this was my shot.

No Doesn’t Mean No, It Means Not Right Now

I made sure to stay in touch with all of the senior leaders, hoping that they would be able to get me into the internship program.  So, I sent in my application and ended up landing an interview with one of the leader’s teams.  Boom.  I was gold – there’s no way that her team isn’t going to like me.  I passed through the first couple of rounds of interviews easy.  Then, I made it to the final interview and ended up not getting the internship.  I was heartbroken, but I knew that this wasn’t the end.

I ended up applying for an internship at L’Oreal, too because one of the leaders from Starbucks left to go there, so I thought my connection would help get me in.  I ended up flying to NYC on a Thursday night, having interviews all day Friday, then flying back Friday night on a red eye to make our football game Saturday at noon.  (What a weekend!)  Anyways, I thought that I made it through those interviews easy too, but nope.  Didn’t get the job either.

So at this point, I’m freaking out.  I don’t know where I’m going to intern at.  I definitely need an internship with my GPA.  Those are all thoughts going through my head until I get a call from someone I had met on LinkedIn.  They needed an intern for the summer, and they wanted to hire me.  So, off to Cincinnati, I went!

Internship #2

The next summer, I went to Cincinnati and worked for a company called Prasco.  A small pharmaceutical company in Ohio.  They had me do their social media work and some product management work, too.  I really enjoyed this experience because it made me realize what I want to do – marketing.  As I left Prasco, I got the opportunity to sit down with their CEO and have a close-out meeting.  At the start of the meeting, he offered me a job and wrote me a letter of recommendation.  I couldn’t contain my excitement, but I still wanted to work for Starbucks, so I told him that I wouldn’t be making a decision soon.

Last Chance

Fast forward, and it’s my senior year.  Now, it’s game time.  I quit football the year before to chase my dreams of becoming a successful businessman.  I felt like football was hindering from my future success, so I had to give up a sport I loved since I was a kid for my goals.

Once senior year started, I started looking for jobs at Starbucks and started contacting my network within the building.  I ended up landing an interview for one team, and all of the interviews were through the phone.  This process lasted for what seemed forever – a matter of months.  Then right as I was getting ready to fly to Atlanta on a Friday (for my seasonal college job), I got a call from the Starbucks recruiter.  “Hi Chase, we want to bring you in for your final interviews,” she said, “we need to fly you out to Seattle for your interviews on Monday.”  Wow.  So you’re calling me on a Friday, right as I’m about to leave, and telling me I need to be across the country on Monday?  Perfect.  Let’s do it.  “Awesome. I am flying to Atlanta, so you will need to book my flight from there and returning flight to Orlando.” I said.  Next up, I am on my way to land this job.

So, I’m in Seattle, and I show up to HQ.  Not going to lie – I was sweating so badly.  I go through 9 interviews for the role and then I run into one of the senior leaders I knew.  He told me that I had to meet some people on his team, so I then got interviewed one more time.  I was exhausted at this moment, but I wanted the job so badly that I didn’t even feel the exhaust until I left.

Goals? Check.

Fast forward past all of the stressing of waiting – I LANDED THE JOB!  There was no better feeling than walking outside to answer the phone and screaming at the top of my lungs that I had done it.  All the people I told since I was 17/18 years old that I was one day going to work for Starbucks finally got to see me land this job.  To be completely honest, though, to me it is all about the perseverance that I am most proud of.  The fact that I told myself I would do it, then I did it.

Two goals – both met.  Land a job before graduation?  Well, I landed the job in February (3 months before graduation).  Check.  Make sure that job was in Seattle with Starbucks?  Check.

These were once long term goals that shortly became short term goals as time flew by.  I now have other goals that I am chasing, and I plan on not only meeting them but exceeding them.  You can too.  Set goals and crush them.  I hope that my story was inspiring to you and showed you that you too can achieve anything.  Set your mind to it.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.  And even though you might fail, keep at it because you will succeed.