On the Job: Jalen Walker


There are multiple paths to take to get the same result. Carman Ainsworth graduate Jalen Walker knows this well. After graduating high school, he went to Michigan State University where he planned to pursue a degree in journalism.

However, in his junior year, due to outside forces, Walker left school and began working in car sales. A move that was unexpected but put him on the path to his current career.

After working in as a car salesman for a few years, Walker was recommended by his manager for a position at Open Door, a mortgage tech company based in Atlanta, Georgia.

“I am proud that I got to where I am today – not finishing school but still ending up with a good job where I am able to take care of myself financially,” says Walker. “A lot of the credit goes to TeenQuest. I was never someone who could just not have a job, because TeenQuest established that in me early on.”

Below, find out what this Atlanta-based TeenQuest graduate is doing now and how the pre-employment program helped him on his path to success.

What does your typical day look like?

I start by checking my email. We have a constant stream of clients coming in at all stages of the process. I speak to at least 150 different clients a month. Then I have offer reviews with sellers or I am communicating repair details with sellers. It’s a busy job, but very rewarding.

Moving forward, what are your future plans?

I am finishing up classes right now to get my real estate license. My goal is to be an investor. I would love to come home and be part of the rebuilding process in Flint. I want to bring the knowledge and skills I have gained being in Atlanta and bring them back home.

How did the lessons you learned in TeenQuest help you on your path to success?

The biggest lesson I learned was “don’t get ready, stay ready.” It is important to always be prepared because you never know what opportunities will pop up.

What is most memorable about your time at TeenQuest/Summer Youth Initiative?

When I worked at the Flint Public Library we had a project where we researched the houses in the College & Cultural Neighborhood and made a directory. Now, working in real estate, when I go home I think more about what I learned about the houses: The history, who lived there and how they were built.

What advice would you give to current TeenQuest students?

Be confident and work when no one is watching.

TeenQuest and Summer Youth Initiative are made possible through the generous support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Sign up for the Afterschool Download email