Alicia Derby started working at Chick-Fil-A when she was 15 years old, now she’s the owner/operator of a Chick-Fil-A franchise located on the University of Southern California campus. The Spelman alum turned her low-on-the-totem pole job into an opportunity that launched her career as an entrepreneur. Earlier this year Derby was highlighted in the LA Focus Newspaper for her entrepreneurial spirit.

From LA Focus:

“My job description was pretty much taking orders on the registers and cleaning up in the dining room,” Derby says of her start with the company.

At that early age, she learned “the basics” of making a better future for herself: coming to work on time, wearing the proper uniform, and doing what was asked of her.

“It was an invaluable thing that a lot of kids don’t get today, but I really benefitted from,” says Derby.

The Atlanta-native stayed with Chick-Fil-A through high school and into college during which time she was promoted to the supervisory role of team leader. Seeing her strong work ethic and drive, the restaurant’s operator asked her if she’d ever considered owning her own Chick-Fil-A.

“Oddly, I’d never even thought that was something that I could do,” says Derby. “I didn’t know that was an opportunity available to me.”

After explaining to her what it took to do his job, the restaurant operator stressed that she should think long and hard on whether or not this was something she wanted to do. It would take a big time commitment. But he also offered to help her.

She decided to go for it and switched her major from theatre to economics.

“After I graduated from college, I started working fulltime, dedicated to getting my own store,” Derby explains. “I went through an intern program for about a year and a half where Chick-Fil-A sends you out to run some of their corporate-owned stores around the country.”

Now at the age of 28, Derby is paying it forward. A young woman she mentored is now taking part in a training program to become a Chick-Fil-A operator!

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