This Way ONward: From First Jobs to Career Rockets

Lamiya Cotton, Enterprise Job Coach at Old Navy Headquarters

Lamiya Cotton says that her goal in life is “to be the most fashionable person on the news.” At the age of 19, as a current communications major at the University of San Francisco with a few Old Navy internships under her belt, she is well on her way.

Supported by community partner Enterprise for Youth, Lamiya kickstarted her professional journey through a This Way ONward internship in 2019. She returned to the company in 2021 to participate in Old Navy’s Headquarters internship. While working on the sales floor wasn’t for her, she learned she loved retail “behind the scenes.” She recalls waking up every day during that HQ internship saying, “I can’t wait to go to work!”

The opportunity to learn about so many different departments and connect with mentors on a personal level was eye-opening. Remarking on how diverse and welcoming the team was at HQ and after learning about all the Equality and Belong Groups and resources (from Black@Gap to Parents@Gap), she concludes, at Old Navy, “Everyone can feel welcome.”

From regularly joining marketing meetings to using cool new technology to sharing a presentation on Old Navy’s Imagine Mission with department heads, she emphasizes, “That experience changed me.” That’s why a year later, she joined the Enterprise staff to lead young people as a job coach for the internship.

According to Lamiya, programs like This Way ONward and Old Navy’s HQ internship are important, because they help people figure out what like and don’t like – providing valuable first job experiences that are hard to come by and kickstarting career pathways. She reflects, “This program completely transformed me in more ways than I could ask.”

By Kristen Marie Kelly, Associate Manager, Enabling Opportunity at Gap Inc. The piece was written to showcase the ambition and advancement of an alumni of This Way ONward, a Gap Inc. partnership with Enterprise for Youth.