Obama looks back to first job as ice-cream scooper

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President Obama on Thursday reminisced about his first job as an ice-cream scooper in Hawaii while rolling out a new initiative to promote summer jobs for young people.

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Obama wrote on LinkedIn that scooping ice cream at a Honolulu Baskin-Robbins could be “brutal on the wrists,” but taught him life lessons he still uses 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.”

Obama announced the launch of the Summer Opportunity Project, a joint effort with state and local leaders, community groups and businesses, to “get young people into their first jobs and create strong transitions between school years and from high school to college and careers.”

The program was recommended by the president’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which is aimed at expanding opportunities for young men and boys of color. The program is open to children of all races, genders and ethnicities, senior adviser Valerie Jarrett told reporters.

LinkedIn, a major online professional network, has pledged to help young people connect with employers for summer jobs in 72 cities. Public figures, including Oprah Winfrey and U.N. Secretary General-Ban Ki Moon, will make posts encouraging young people to sign up and employers to participate.

The federal government is also publishing a new guide for cities and towns to use to set up their own summer jobs programs, and the Department of Labor has launched a $20 million grant program for communities who provide “innovative approaches” to summer hiring, the White House said.

“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.

“Let’s make sure every young person in America knows that, if they work hard and play by the rules, the future they are willing to work for is within their grasp.”

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