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James Collins

James Collins JVS Graduate Is Vice-President for McDonald's Southwest Region

James Collins, Marketing and Management, Class of: 1978
As graduates face the worst job market since the Great Depression, many are taking jobs, any job, just for the sake of having a job. But sometimes there's more potential than one would think in that first position, even if it's "flipping burgers."

Lorain County JVS graduate James Collins is proof of that.

James Collins enrolled in the Lorain County JVS Marketing and Management Program with his sights set on a career in retail management. "I always had a bit of a 'passion for fashion'," he said.

But after a potential job at a men's retail store failed to materialize, Collins changed his plans.

"I was devastated when the job fell through, but thankfully my JVS instructors were there to offer encouragement and feedback about why I didn't get the job," said Collins, who learned the importance of a firm handshake and making strong eye contact with potential employers at the JVS.

Employability skills, which are strongly emphasized in all JVS programs, helped Collins secure a part-time job as a McDonald's crew member his junior year.

"McDonald's was my first meaningful job," said Collins, who graduated in 1978 from Clearview High School.

Thanks to his skills and strong work ethic, Collins became an hourly manager with McDonald's immediately after graduation.

Today, Collins oversees more than 750 restaurants with annual sales over $1.7 billion as vice president and general manager of McDonald's Greater Southwest Region, including North Texas, a small portion of northwest Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

Collins was also featured in a McDonald's advertising campaign showcasing career opportunities for minorities that appeared in Black Enterprise, Essence, Ebony, JET and Rolling Out magazines.

He attributes much of his success to his JVS instructors. "They inspired me to reach for higher ground," Collins said. "You always want people, especially employers, to see your potential, and sometimes others may see your potential before you even see your own. Lorain County JVS helped me realize my potential."

When Collins still lived in the Lorain County area he continued his relationship with the JVS, appearing in an informational video and encouraging field trips for students to McDonald's, where they could observe the fast food industry firsthand.

His work led him to create a training program to introduce JVS students to the quick service restaurant business, teaching customer interaction and service skills, such as serving customers even when technology isn't available.

"I saw an immediate technology gap when the kids had problems counting change if they weren't using the computerized tills," Collins said. "It's important for our workers to feel comfortable in all aspects of the job, even if it is just making change for the customer."

Collins offers some advice to current and future JVS students:

"My grandparents always told me to do good, even when nobody's looking-it's a philosophy that has always worked for me!"
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The Lorain County Joint Vocational School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age in its programs and activities, and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. © 2022. The Lorain County Joint Vocational School District. All Rights Reserved.