In Spring 2019, Athens native Alex Soto was in his junior year at Cedar Shoals High School when a classmate shared information about the This Way Onward program and the two decided to pursue the summer internship together. This would be Alex’s first job and he was excited about earning money to help his family through a challenging financial time.

Alex excelled during Goodwill’s job readiness training taught and was selected for an internship position at Old Navy’s Epps Bridge store. Alex had not been an Old Navy shopper and hadn’t given much thought to working in retail – his desire was to find work that would support his goal to work in journalism.

Although he learned about all aspects of being an Old Navy brand associate, Alex spent most of the internship working the cash wrap. Receiving a paycheck was a new experience, and Alex took the financial literacy training he received at Goodwill to heart, noting that it really helped him to learn about budgeting. With his contributions, Alex’s family was able to get to a more stable financial situation. Alex then began saving money for a car.

When the internship ended in August 2019, Alex was offered continuing employment with Old Navy. Since the store was willing to work with his school schedule, he readily accepted. Around this time Alex also joined the National Guard as a way to pay for college.

As a permanent member of the Old Navy team, Alex became loyalty lead, where he talked to customers about the benefits of the Old Navy card, trained employees on how best to explain these benefits, and kept up with goals of the store. Before long, another lead position was added and Alex was managing the cash wrap and planning for items located near the register. This experience helped to prepare him for more lead positions.

During Alex’s senior year of high school the pandemic hit, so upon graduation Alex decided to take a gap year. He became the full-time cash wrap lead and was also named a cash handler, a role in which he took on more responsibility with closing the store. In order to broaden his experience, Alex moved to boys lead, where he helped the manager of the children’s department with a variety of tasks, including merchandise moves so that the area was in compliance with Old Navy corporate guidelines. In March 2021, Alex was promoted to senior women’s lead. This position is one of the most critical in the store, as women’s is the biggest department and is the area where Old Navy sees the greatest revenue.

Alex truly enjoys working at Old Navy, sharing that the people are the best part of the job. His coworkers are high energy and contribute to a great atmosphere, and he takes pride in helping customers find what they are looking for. Although he plans to attend University of North Georgia to pursue a major in journalism, Alex says the Old Navy experience has been so positive that he could envision a career in retail.