President Barack Obama looks back fondly on the summer of 1978, spent behind the ice cream counter of a Baskin Robbins near his grandparents’ Honolulu home — even though at the time, he saw it as a threat to his basketball career, he wrote in a LinkedIn post on Thursday.
“Rows and rows of rock-hard ice cream can be brutal on the wrists,” he wrote. “As a teenager working behind the counter at Baskin-Robbins in Honolulu, I was less interested in what the job meant for my future and more concerned about what it meant for my jump shot.”
“My first summer job wasn’t exactly glamorous, but it taught me some valuable lessons,” Obama said. “Responsibility. Hard work. Balancing a job with friends, family, and school.”
It was 16-year-old Obama’s first job, and even though financial aid helped him attend the esteemed, expensive Punahou School, he didn’t begin working until the summer before his senior year of high school.
It’s part of the reason why his administration is launching the Summer Opportunity Project, he wrote, a national program to get teenagers into their first jobs, to teach them the value of hard work and keep them out of trouble when school’s out.
“And while I may have lost my taste for ice cream after one too many free scoops, I’ll never forget that job — or the people who gave me that opportunity — and how they helped me get to where I am today,” Obama wrote.