Yesha Callahan

High School Job Leads To Chick-Fil-A Franchise For Young Black Woman

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Alicia Derby started working at Chick-Fil-A when she was 15 years old, now she’s the owner/operator of a Chick-Fil-A franchise located on the University of Southern California campus. The Spelman alum turned her low-on-the-totem pole job into an opportunity that launched her career as an entrepreneur. Earlier this year Derby was highlighted in the LA Focus Newspaper for her entrepreneurial spirit.

From LA Focus:

“My job description was pretty much taking orders on the registers and cleaning up in the dining room,” Derby says of her start with the company.

At that early age, she learned “the basics” of making a better future for herself: coming to work on time, wearing the proper uniform, and doing what was asked of her.

“It was an invaluable thing that a lot of kids don’t get today, but I really benefitted from,” says Derby.

The Atlanta-native stayed with Chick-Fil-A through high school and into college during which time she was promoted to the supervisory role of team leader. Seeing her strong work ethic and drive, the restaurant’s operator asked her if she’d ever considered owning her own Chick-Fil-A.

“Oddly, I’d never even thought that was something that I could do,” says Derby. “I didn’t know that was an opportunity available to me.”

After explaining to her what it took to do his job, the restaurant operator stressed that she should think long and hard on whether or not this was something she wanted to do. It would take a big time commitment. But he also offered to help her.

She decided to go for it and switched her major from theatre to economics.

“After I graduated from college, I started working fulltime, dedicated to getting my own store,” Derby explains. “I went through an intern program for about a year and a half where Chick-Fil-A sends you out to run some of their corporate-owned stores around the country.”

Now at the age of 28, Derby is paying it forward. A young woman she mentored is now taking part in a training program to become a Chick-Fil-A operator!

  1. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    This makes up at least a little bit for all of the ultra conservative stuff that Chic-Fil-A is up to.

  2. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    That is awesome!! She can use that economics degree in many ways.

  3. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    I see so many great elements in this story; hard work, perseverance, mentorship, adaptability (cause lord knows that theater degree was probably not going to pay off), and finally paying it forward. Go girl!

  4. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    Great work and accomplishment, especially considering her youthfulness. Eat mor chikin!

  5. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    People underestimate the skills you learn when working in the food industry at a young age. My first job in high school was in a franchise restaurant like this and it taught me a lot about punctuality, customer service, and how to present oneself.

  6. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    Go Alicia, go!

  7. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    Something is missing from this story, how do you own something without putting up money

    • August 17, 2013 - Reply

      @politicallyincorrect

      Presumably the man who mentored her was able to help her acquire a loan. And, I’m no expert, but my guess is companies that do franchises probably have some type of financing set-up.

  8. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    Wow, and getting into Chick Fil A isn’t easy. They’re very strict, but once you’re in it’s all good.

  9. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    girl you go! This is awesome!

  10. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    Great move; a wonderful way to take the experiences learned on the job to do bigger and better things.

  11. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    That’s awesome! I love hearing how people can work their way up the ladder and make it! So inspirational.

  12. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    Congratulations.

  13. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    This is a great story. I wish more people would understand that there is no shame in doing honest work. Working in the fast food industry is not the most glamorous or most well paid job, but you learn valuable transferable skills and you are also in a better position to one day own your own store. Congratulations to this women.

  14. August 18, 2013 - Reply

    I think it’s a great opportunity. I worked at Chik-fil-A years ago and frankly it was one of the best jobs I ever had. The operator gave us a raise every three months, I was off on weekends and holidays, I worked from 6am-2pm, and my co-workers were almost like family. I miss working there sometimes, but I like the job I have now. Congratulations to her!

  15. August 19, 2013 - Reply

    I love stories like this! Awesome!

  16. September 3, 2013 - Reply

    I’m very proud and happy for her. She shows that opportunities can sit right in front of you and if you pay attention you can grab them. Wishing her much success with her store.

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