(KPIX 5) — At 16, Students Rising Above alum Damont Hardnett was eager to land his first job.
“I waited in line at 5:00 a.m. for the job fair; my mom dropped me off. I really want a job I really want to work this summer,” said Damont at the time. “My mom always told me, ‘staying busy is going to keep you out of a lot of stuff that you don’t need to be in.'”
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Years after that first job, Damont is now a college student at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Penn., and using internships to explore his future career.
This summer, for the second year in a row, he’s back at CBS Interactive analyzing data for sales. He was so surprised at the reception he got on his first day back.
“I was sitting in the lobby and they literally came up to me like ‘oh my gosh Damont, I’m so happy you’re back, you did an amazing job last year,’” he said. “These little things matter to me.”
But what also matters to him, is being recognized in the tech world and breaking stereotypes.
The SRA alum wants to open the doors for other young African American men, “I feel that my voice is a little more powerful, a little bit more meaningful,” he said. “Just being able to connect with people on a different basis, connect with people not just looking at race but looking at the potential one can do in the workplace.”
Damont is used to pushing himself. When we first met him in high school, he was on the brink of achieving a major goal – acceptance to college. “Since I was young, like, ‘how would it be to go to a four-year university?, like how can I do that and just dreaming about it and now it’s about to become my reality.”
For as long as he can remember, Damont’s mother – a single parent – has worked full time to raise her three sons. Her struggle is his motivation.
“I believe my opportunity is to push myself on my own, for my own future, that’s what I really look at,” he said.
Melisa Thomson, who oversees recruiting and hiring summer interns for CBS Interactive, is thrilled to bring Damont back. “He’s a go-getter through and through. He’s really ambitious to learn and that’s actually something we always look for with interns,” said Thomson. “Yes, he’s good at his job. Yes, he’s excited, but that extra ‘oomph’ is really what makes him stand out.”