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GECAC intern program helps teen land job
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Veronica Castillo, 17, graduated from the GECAC internship program and now works in the State Farm Insurance of Jacob Naven. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Veronica Castillo, 17, has found her niche in the business world as a teen thanks to the Give Every Child A Chance intern work program.

State Farm Insurance agent Jacob Naven welcomed Castillo into his office for the prescribed six-week orientation.  He then hired her part-time to use her social skills in calling clients when their policies were coming up for review and welcoming them into his office.

“I loved everything about it during those first six weeks.  You learn so much about job skills,” she said.

There were seven teens in her GECAC group – five girls and two boys, she said. Veronica is planning on attending Delta College next year where she will focus on a business major.

Veronica has one 15-year-old brother at West High School in Tracy and she was in independent study this last year in Manteca.

“She is very responsible and eager to learn; she’s on time with a cheery personality, always looking for more to do.,” Naven said. “She does a lot of things that help the office such as filing and answering the phone – she’s a big help.

“It’s a good thing for people to walk in the door and be greeted with a smile,” he said.

In her off hours, Veronica said she likes to exercise, read and go running.  When she’s bored she likes to go out and have fun, too, she says.

“It’s a good thing here,” she said.  “There is teamwork and everything is good in the office.”

Meredith Payne, who runs the mentoring program for GECAC, said she is proud of Veronica seeing how much her self-confidence has improved since joining the insurance office.  

The new office worker said she has seen herself gain a greater sense of responsibility, paying for her own gas and some of the expenses incurred living with her parents in Tracy.  

She said her mom has always been her best friend, being able to talk about anything she faces in life with her.  

“I can tell her anything.  I don’t know what I would do without her,” she said.

And she has become a pretty good cook, too, at 17 years old.  Veronica makes Peruvian and Guatemalan tamales in addition to her favorite pastries.    

She was introduced to the Give Every Child A Chance mentoring program by a teacher through the San Joaquin County Office of Education.  Veronica said she filled out the application and was accepted and the whole process went by so quickly from orientation to being hired as a part-time worker.

She said she has learned the value of dressing more professionally to meet the clientele who come into the office.