Shanika Burton Finds a Job She Loves After Graduating from StepUp

By Stephen Crupi / Photos by Chris Lee

Shanika Burton loves her job. She began working at The Scrap Exchange in the middle of June and says it is the favorite job she has ever had.

But not too long ago, Shanika was almost ready to give up on looking for a job that fit her needs. “I would get jobs, but they weren’t what I was looking for. I wouldn’t get the hours I wanted. So I prayed about it, and then I met Julia [a StepUp intern] at Dress for Success and Julia explained about StepUp. So I called StepUp the next day. I was in the right place at the right time,” Shanika explains.

I was kind of giving up with jobs, but sometimes God gives people who can help you. That’s how it was with StepUp.

Shanika attended StepUp’s 32-hour Employment Readiness Workshop in late May, and she says that it was during the workshop that she realized some of her methods for searching and applying for jobs were outdated. Having been trained how to look for jobs in the 1990s, Shanika credits StepUp with giving her new ideas on how to search for jobs in 2016, particularly when it comes to networking, interviewing, and resume writing.

StepUp also provided Shanika with a community of people who were looking for jobs just like her. "I was able to fellowship with other people at StepUp and hear their stories about how to survive," Shanika says.

In addition to the community StepUp offers, Shanika enjoyed the learning environment for the workshop. “StepUp reminded me of going to class. I liked going to school, so I enjoyed that. I took lots of notes. If you want to learn, StepUp is a good asset. It helps you get back into learning.”

After finishing the week, Shanika began working with StepUp’s staff to look for a job. Within two weeks, Shanika had obtained employment at The Scrap Exchange, one of StepUp’s referral partners.

At The Scrap Exchange, Shanika works as a cashier and processes and restocks inventory. She enjoys being able to engage with customers, and she takes pride in doing her job well. “My boss told me that I set a world record with the number of items I was able to process in one day,” Shanika recalls. “It feels good when your bosses appreciate you.”

Having been able to obtain employment at The Scrap Exchange, Shanika is now looking to the future. She says that she wants to learn and grow at her current job, and possibly return to school to take business classes.

For the present, though, Shanika is enjoying where she is at The Scrap Exchange. And according to her supervisor, Jeff Zern, Shanika is doing a great job. In an email to StepUp staff, Jeff writes: “[Shanika] has proved to be a versatile member of our staff. We can rely on Shanika to do a great job in any of the multifaceted positions at The Scrap Exchange. Shanika is a rock star staff member and we are lucky to have her on the team!"

“I want to stay connected with StepUp in the future,” Shanika states. “StepUp is a good investment of your time. My employment counselor is awesome, he is very supportive, and things from StepUp helped when I applied to Scrap Exchange. I was kind of giving up with jobs, but sometimes God gives people who can help you. That’s how it was with StepUp.”


Special Thanks to The Burt's Bees Greater Good Foundation:

Shanika's training and employment support were made possible by the generous support of The Burt's Bees Greater Good Foundation and its investment in StepUp Durham's green jobs initiative. StepUp Durham commends employers like The Scrap Exchange for their commitment to a cleaner, greener world through recycling and reuse. If you are an employer committed to sustainability and you would like to recruit talented individuals from StepUp, please contact Erin Roesch at

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