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College and Career Pathways

#MySummerJob: Amyre Makupson, retired TV anchor, got her start as a soda jerk

Summer jobs are more than just a way for teens to make a few dollars. They’re an important building block on the path to future employment. They help kids get a true taste of the world beyond high school.

Whether they’re serving ice cream, stocking shelves or folding T-shirts at the mall, teens are learning skills that go far beyond that. They’re learning how to show up on time, deal with a manager, be a team player, communicate with people from different backgrounds, follow protocols, manage a paycheck and fit into a corporate culture.


But too few teens are getting that formative work experience. Unemployment rates for youth ages 16 to 19 was 20 percent in July, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This month, we’re talking with Detroiters who have found success as an adult about their first summer job to see how it shaped them. We want to hear about what lasting mark your first, or most memorable, summer job made, too. Share it on social media with hashtag #MySummerJob.

The first story comes from someone with a familiar face in Detroit for her years as a TV anchor on Channel 50 (WKBD). Long before she made her career in TV, she was a familiar face for folks looking to buy candy or gum. Read on for more.

EMPLOYEE: Amyre Makupson, retired news anchor and Skillman Foundation Trustee

WHERE DID YOU WORK? I was a “soda jerk” at Cozy Corner in Detroit Michigan

WHAT DID YOU ACTUALLY DO? I sold candies, chips, gum, comic books and made drinks such as phosphates and ice cream sodas. I handled almost everything at the counter. I even sold the cigarettes and cigars because back then, no one bothered to check ages because smoking was completely “cool”

WHAT DID YOU LIKE ABOUT IT? I liked the job, quite honestly, because it paid. I loved making the money. I think I made $2.25 a day. It sounded like a lot at the time. I might have been 12 years old. I used to keep my pay in a cigar box. I also felt like a big shot when kids would come in and see me behind the counter.

HOW DID IT IMPACT YOUR FUTURE CAREER: I thought at the time I might want to own a drug store. But that didn’t happen…and the thought didn’t stay with me too long. It did shape my future in the sense that I liked the idea of working.

WHAT STUCK WITH YOU? I like that the owners trusted me. I will never forget them…Walter and Leona Gravadoni. They trusted me (a kid) with their product, their money (it was a cash business) and their customers. It made me proud.

WHY IS TEEN EMPLOYMENT IMPORTANT FOR DETROIT? Summer employment is important because it gives young people a chance to be independent and learn what it feels like to do something positive for themselves.

What was your most formative summer job experience? Share it on social media with #MySummerJob. Follow the Foundation @skillmanfound, where we will be retweeting and sharing your stories.

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