Opportunity NOW Gives Youth the Perfect Start: Bilal's Story
August 30, 2017
“Hi, is this Bilal?” asked an unfamiliar voice on the other side of the telephone line. Bilal, a rising junior at Hunters Lane High School, had recently applied for employment opportunities through the Opportunity NOW job portal. Not recognizing the number on his cell, he hesitated. To his surprise, the call would change his summer plans—it was an offer for summer employment.
“The call I got that afternoon was a job offer. It was so last minute that I thought I wasn’t going to get anything, let alone an internship at a law office.” Full of excitement, Bilal called his mother. “My mother is my everything in life. She said she was proud of me and for her to say that makes me feel like I can do more than what I have already accomplished.”
Bilal never planned on getting an internship through Opportunity NOW and looking back, it was not at all what he expected. The program was suggested to him as a solution to a problem he was facing in school. During his sophomore year, Bilal struggled with attendance. After having too many absences, he was sent to an attendance officer to find solutions. During the meeting, the officer recommended he look into getting a summer job through Opportunity NOW.
Through Opportunity NOW, Bilal interned with Waller Law. With plans to attend college and study criminal justice, his summer internship was the perfect start. He has a passion and dream to become a defense attorney. Motivation from his family continues to drive him to finish school and make the most out of every opportunity. “Knowing where I want to go drives me. I want to be in a better place than where I am now. Also, knowing my little brother and sister see me doing something with my life motivates me even more.”
Bilal feels grateful for his summer internship through the Opportunity NOW Summer Youth Employment Program. The program focuses on building soft skills needed in the workforce and has helped grow his confidence. In addition, he developed a routine that he feels will help him as school resumes this Fall. While at Waller, Bilal was never late and always arrived prepared and on time to start his day. His internship provided him the chance to cultivate time management skills that he looks forward to using while in school this year.
Bilal is also thankful for his supervisors who have supported and taught him valuable lessons during his internship at Waller Law. “They put their trust in me. And having someone’s trust empowers me to be the best me possible.”
This summer, Bilal has learned new skills, stayed busy and out of trouble. “Trouble will find you if you don’t have anything to do. You might not think something will happen, but nine times out of ten something will. Having something to do and staying busy has helped keep me away from that trouble. It has given me something to do with my time. Something I enjoy.”
After completing his six-week summer internship through Opportunity NOW, Waller Law asked him to return for the remainder of the summer and into the year—an internship opportunity he never imagined. “I am excited and thankful for the opportunity this program has given me. I couldn’t have imagined having this chance and look forward to continuing my internship at Waller Law.”
Opportunity NOW gives youth the chance to explore possibilities; more importantly, it provides them building blocks for their future. Youth like Bilal have developed soft skills and workforce experience during their summer internships. Bilal, answering the unknown caller, took advantage of an opportunity that has prepared him to achieve his dreams. He represents many Nashville youth looking for the chance to succeed.
For more information about Opportunity NOW, visit on.nashville.gov.