Profession: Licensed Master Social Worker, Washington, D.C.
Her First Gig: Leticia Bhola landed her first job in an unconventional setting. After getting her hair styled for several years at a local salon, Bhola noticed that the salon owner was a bit overwhelmed and could use a little help. So, at just 15, Bhola asked if she could join their staff and began working as a salon assistant at Iola’s Beauty Salon in Brooklyn, N.Y. With her tips and daily salary, she made more money than your average teen after school and on the weekends. She worked at Iola’s until she graduated from high school and went on to work as a data collector for Cornell Medical Center before going to Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
While in college, Bhola worked as a receptionist and administrative assistant for the journalism department and held several summer jobs as a bank teller and assistant at a law firm. She was no stranger to hard work and learned the importance of balancing school and her jobs. This came in handy when she later worked full time while pursuing her master’s degree in social work.
Pros and Cons: As a licensed social worker, with more than 10 years experience providing social services for various populations, Bhola says her first job taught her much more than how to give a great shampoo. Her greatest lesson came from dealing with the many personalities and cultures that entered the salon each day. “The experience taught me how to deal with diverse populations and how to be a team player,” she says. As a social worker, she has to work with clients from all walks of life, and her experience in the salon prepared her with the cultural sensitivity and relationship skills needed for a successful career in social work.
Bhola was at an advantage when she graduated from college because unlike many of her peers, she had several jobs to put on her resume. “I felt more confident because I already had communication and computer skills,” she says.
Words of Wisdom: Bohla encourages today’s teens to take advantage of any opportunity to gain work experience. “Don’t treat it as just a job. Look at it as building blocks for your future.” She also encourages teenagers begin working early so that they can find out what professions they like and don’t like.