Economic Development
December 6, 2023

PepsiCo's Pathways to Readiness and Empowerment Program - Jayden Betaga

The Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) works to build power, develop leaders and enable families to live self-sufficient lives. Though SWOP works in many different campaigns and initiatives, one of their most recent programs has seen the deep dive into Workforce and Economic Development. In October of 2021, PepsiCo launched the Pathway to Readiness + Empowerment Program (PREP) working with community-based organizations like SWOP and leaders from Englewood, North Lawndale, Chicago Lawn and more with an aim to increase access to high quality careers among 3,000 Black and Hispanic youth across Chicago’s South and West sides.

Jayden Betaga, 19-years-old, stands at the crossroads of possibility, having just completed a transformative six-week internship at PepsiCo. A tech enthusiast since his early years, Jayden has always been captivated by the allure of video games and cutting-edge technology. Growing up in the heart of West Pullman, he found inspiration to explore the intricate realms of cybersecurity and device repair. Jayden's journey into the fascinating world of corporate cybersecurity began with a curiosity-driven exploration of YouTube videos, where he delved into the inner workings of companies and their robust defense mechanisms, internal security practices, and the processes of repairing different kinds of devices. As he navigates his next steps for his life, Jayden emerges as a promising young individual eager to contribute his skills and knowledge to his community.

During his time in an After School Matters program, Jayden’s mother approached him with the idea of a PepsiCo internship that she had heard about through SWOP. Being eager to gain some experience with a company of their stature, he jumped at the opportunity. The Southwest Organizing Project’s Employment Organizer Quabeeny Daniels was Jayden's guide into and throughout the program. During his immersive six-week internship at PepsiCo, Jayden Betaga not only gained invaluable insights into the inner workings of their warehouse facility but also developed an understanding of the company's customer relations strategy. As he delved into the day-to-day operations, Jayden discovered the interconnectedness of each role within the organization and the pivotal role each employee played in the company's overall success. Reflecting on his experience, Jayden remarked, "The PepsiCo internship was very interesting. I got to see firsthand how every job, from the warehouse to customer relations, contributes in their own way.” Jayden also highlighted a few of the experiences he had in going to PepsiCo’s downtown facility where he attended meetings and even got to taste test some of their products.

When asked about his experience with SWOP, Jayden shared this. “Honestly, before this I hadn’t heard of SWOP, but after working with Q (Quabeeny) and coming out to one of the events they had for their Reclaiming Campaign; I was surprised I hadn’t. I hadn’t realized how big of an organization they were and how they were connected to so many community initiatives. I would recommend reaching out to them if you ever need help or want to try different things.” Jayden spoke of his next steps, mentioning that he had just gotten into college classes, but remarked that he still plans to confer with Quabeeny as a guide while he figures out which direction his path in life will follow.

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