Meet Mario

“In my job at GoCar, I help out customers. I show them the routes.” This is how 23-year-old Oakland native Mario describes his role at GoCar San Francisco, a sightseeing company that helps tourists find their way around the city on go karts. The fact that Mario is now in the position to support others as they navigate unfamiliar territory can be seen as paying forward the reinforcements he’s received from participating in New Door Ventures’ employment program.

Mario encountered New Door programming while experiencing a particularly challenging set of circumstances, including not having a place to live and recently losing his car. And while the hard skills of budgeting, navigating the housing system, and gaining work experience were all clear goals that Mario identified, it was a so-called soft skill that he named as his greatest need. The skill I lacked mostly was determination,” he says, adding, “Younger me is very stubborn. And does not care.”

But with some structure, consistency, and encouragement, Mario began to care. “I was willing to change who I was,” he shares. That willingness landed him in new and unfamiliar territory that required him to stretch outside of his comfort zone and grow. “What seemed very challenging at GoCar was just talking to people,” Mario says. He didn’t perceive himself as a “talker,” but his self-perception and sense of confidence has shifted. “Now,” he says, “I talk to everybody and their mom. What I learned about myself at New Door is I do have the mental capacity; I do have the drive.”