Before his senior year of high school began, Julian was worried about working his first job – two hours each weekday at a Pizza Hut restaurant. Now, months later, his boss is so pleased with his work that he hopes to keep him on his team after Julian graduates.
Julian, 18, participates in Easterseals Arc’s Pre-Employment Transition program at Homestead High School. The program helps students in high school learn as much as they can about finding jobs and working successfully.
Some students in Pre-ETS work part-time jobs during part of the school day. Julian has worked at two Pizza Huts: first at the Coventry Pizza Hut, and now at the one on Illinois Road.
Sam Sipes, the general manager of the Illinois Road Pizza Hut, would like to keep him on the team after he leaves Homestead and Pre-ETS.
“Julian is doing so well for us that I do plan on offering him a position with us,” Sipes said.
At Sipes’ restaurant – which mainly serves carry-out customers – Julian usually does morning prep work during his noon to 2 p.m. shift. He spends much of his time filling small plastic cups with marinara or cheese sauce to include with orders. But Sipes said Julian has learned to do much more around the store, too. “He’s learned to cut pizzas. He’s made pizzas,” Sipes said.
Victoria Schlatter, who supervises the Pre-ETS programs at Homestead and Carroll high schools, has frequently observed Julian at work. She said he’s also washed dishes, prepped pasta bowls and helped manage inventory. At the Coventry Pizza Hut, he also helped keep veggies flowing to the salad bar.
High schools have various policies about whether Pre-ETS students can be paid and how much they’re paid. Schlatter said Julian earns $11 per hour for his work.
Before he started his work at Pizza Hut, Julian was worried about the entirely new experience of working a job.
“I was a little scared at first,” he said. “I hadn’t ever really had a job before.”
The day-to-day challenges of learning his work at the Coventry Pizza Hut may have helped him find his groove there.
“He’s very good at rising to expectations,” his mother, Leea Villarreal, said.
Julian has a knack for mastering lots of information about subjects that pique his interest. He’s fascinated by movies and video games, and not just the films and games themselves. He wants to know who made them — not just actors, writers and directors, but also producers and the executives who ran studios.
He shares his interests with a wide circle online, producing many videos on Wii sports and the Nintendo video game Tomodachi Life. During a recent shift at the Illinois Road Pizza Hut, he worked side-by-side with Gianna Kerby, also a Homestead student.
He told her he’d had a YouTube channel with more than 1,100 subscribers until recently.
“I had seven subscribers, including my grandma,” Gianna replied.
He meets the quick pace of restaurant work happily, walking so quickly from one station to another that he almost skips sometimes. He shows no trace of the anxiety he felt last year before he joined his first pizza crew.
“I love having conversations with the people there,” Julian said.