How Obama's 'Brutal' First Job Inspired A New Youth Employment Initiative

Before Obama was president of the United States, he was the president... of milkshakes.

In a post on LinkedIn this week, President Barack Obama shared details about his very first gig in the workforce: scooping ice cream at a Baskin-Robbins as a teenager in Hawaii. Obama said the experience taught him lessons about hard work and ultimately helped him get to where he is today.

"My first summer job wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it taught me some valuable lessons," the president wrote. "Responsibility. Hard work. Balancing a job with friends, family, and school."

U.S. President Barack Obama buys ice cream at Deb's Ice Cream and Deli in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, July 10, 2012.
U.S. President Barack Obama buys ice cream at Deb's Ice Cream and Deli in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, July 10, 2012.
Jason Reed / Reuters

Obama was writing to announce a new, multi-agency initiative aimed at putting more youngsters to work.

The Summer Opportunity Project hopes to "significantly increase the percentage of youth in evidence-based summer opportunity programs, decrease the percentage of youth experiencing violence over the summer, and -- more broadly -- make sure that young Americans have the support they need to get their first job," the White House said in a release Thursday.

The initiative comes in the wake of a $5.5 billion proposal by the administration to create summer jobs and first-time jobs for young Americans.

In a recent interview with The Washington Post, acting Education Secretary John B. King said that there has been a 40 percent decline in summer jobs for youth over the past 12 years. “First jobs have the incredible power to set young people on a path to productivity and success, and away from bad outcomes in their lives,” King said.

For POTUS, that first summer job, although "brutal on the wrists," proved crucial.

"While I may have lost my taste for ice cream after one too many free scoops, I’ll never forget that job -- or the people who gave me that opportunity -- and how they helped me get to where I am today," Obama wrote in his LinkedIn post.

How's that for 31 flavors of inspiration?

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