Jamar Clarke

This is the second post in our “Reach Your Potential” series, which features individuals from our Jobs Waiting TechHire program.

Jamar Clarke had it made in the shade. A graduate of Pelham Prep in the Bronx, he applied for, and received, a full scholarship to the University of Vermont. He was focused on pursuing a high-income career in engineering.

But the adjustment to campus life proved more difficult than he anticipated. A move so far from his parents —while he was still grieving the loss of his sister a year before—was too much. He dropped out after one semester.


“I drifted some,” says Clarke, now 21. “I lacked structure and direction. I felt sort of aimless. I needed to find out more about myself and what I wanted out of a career besides making money.”

He enrolled in engineering courses at Westchester Community College, following the course of study he had pursued at UVM. He worked in various retail jobs but found he needed more income. A friend approached him to help manage a new clothing line he was launching, and Clarke signed on. He learned about and became fascinated by digital marketing and decided to learn all he could about the industry. He landed an administrative assistant in marketing job at another fashion line.

One thing about Clarke: He’s resourceful. He went online and found digital marketing courses to sharpen his skills. He completed an unpaid internship for a career coach in San Antonio, Texas, whose social media he managed for a few months.

He thought he might strike out on his own. In early 2018, he participated an entrepreneurship program through New York City-based Operation Hope, which helps youth develop business plans. He continued looking for non-retail work. What eventually became clear to Clarke was, in order to move up in tech, he’d need further education and training. His Operation Hope advisor connected him to a career coach at the Mt. Vernon Career Center, who suggested Jobs Waiting.

He says the program changed everything.

“Over the last few years, I learned more about myself, and what I wanted. In the last five weeks with Jobs Waiting, I plotted my five-year career path,” he says.

Clarke says he learned about career possibilities that he never knew existed—cyber security, coding, web development, for example. He learned to use LinkedIn. He learned how to professionally network.

Now? He started a new internship with a digital content agency, a potential path to a paying job. He’s enrolling in Borough of Manhattan Community College and aims to raise his GPA high enough to get into the Pace University marketing and advertising bachelor’s degree program. He’s on his way!



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