KNOXVILLE - "Everybody knows I'm a quiet person," said JaJuan Tate, a 16-year-old from Knoxville.
"What people don't know is I work in a bike shop. Or that I have a job, really," he said.
Tate is Knoxville's teenage bike technician thanks to an internship that started with a persistent grandmother.
"I think he kind of came in doing it because his granny made him, but I think it's turned into a really good thing for him and it's really positive for him," said Rebecca McDonough, director of the YouthForce program through Boys and Girls Clubs.
The program recruits high school students to take part in a paid internship after teaching them basic jobs skills in a classroom setting.
"Those skills are the kind of social skills and basic skills you can bring into the workplace and already be a step ahead of every other teen in the workforce," said McDonough.
JaJuan, who has been on a bike most of his life, jumped on an opportunity at DreamBikes.
"JaJuan also shows a lot of leadership in the shop which is really cool," said assistant manager Mitchell Connell. "Like helping make sure the other students clock in and clock out. Helping the other students with problems."
After months of working with customers and earning the respect of his co-workers, JaJuan turned his internship into a part time job. He then joined a mountain bike team and earned a sponsorship. In the process, he also overcame his struggles with shyness.
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