The Washington Post

Hillary Clinton stresses importance of first jobs and vocational training

Hillary Clinton welcomes more than 1,000 college student leaders for the 2014 meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative University at Arizona State University in Tempe on Saturday. (Reuters /Samantha Sais)

TEMPE, Ariz. – Hillary Rodham Clinton’s first job, she recalled, was an “exaggerated form of babysitting.” She was just 13 at the time, and for a few hours every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, she supervised a local park a few miles from her suburban Chicago home.

“I was thrilled,” Clinton said in brief remarks here Saturday. “I felt so excited to have this job.”

Her challenge: figuring out how to transport her equipment – games, a volleyball – from home to the park. Her dad took the family’s only car to work, so young Hillary resorted to a wagon, which she loaded up and pulled behind her as she walked to work. “I just prayed nobody I knew would ever see me as I was going by their homes,” she recalled.

Clinton, who went on to serve as first lady and secretary of state and is weighing a second presidential campaign in 2016, shared the anecdote to stress the importance of first jobs – an experience, she said, through which young people gain skills, find networks, build confidence and internalize lessons about work.

Clinton spoke at the opening of a discussion on higher education at the Clinton Global Initiative University, a philanthropic gathering of about 1,200 college students sponsored by her family’s charitable foundation and hosted by Arizona State University.

Clinton said it is critical to support and develop the nation’s community colleges “and get back to really respecting vocational and technical work.” She said there are many jobs that may not require a college degree, “but require respect for dignity of work.”

Clinton added, “I don’t know how we would operate without people who are teaching those skills and putting them to work for all of us.”

Clinton will be speaking about education again on Monday, when she addresses a global higher education conference convened by former Florida governor Jeb Bush – a potential Republican rival in the 2016 presidential contest – and former North Carolina governor Jim Hunt, a Democrat.

Also Monday, Clinton will visit Tulsa, Okla., to announce a new partnership with Too Small to Fail, the early childhood development initiative she is helping to lead to bridge the “word gap” for disadvantaged small children. Clinton will join Tulsa billionaire George Kaiser and other local officials to launch a local campaign called “Talking is Teaching.” The effort will use advertisements and other forms of creative messaging to encourage parents and caregivers to help their children ages 5 and younger develop their vocabularies and prepare for school.


Philip Rucker is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where he has reported since 2005.



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Philip Rucker · March 22, 2014

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