Jumping into a career right after high school

For some young people, the idea of graduating high school and immediately going to college just doesn’t work well.

Christian Ruvalcaba was 16 years old and attending high school in Upper Arlington near Columbus when he decided he wanted to start working. Little did he know that the job he started as just a part-time venture would grow into a career that would take him into management in the Dayton area with the same company.

“My friend’s older brother was working for Weed Man (a lawn care company) and he asked me if I wanted to work for them,” Ruvalcaba said. “I was interested in working and making some extra money, so I applied.”

Ruvalcaba’s first year was not without its challenges. Weed Man started him out as a door-to-door canvasser and Ruvalcaba admits it was difficult.

“I was really nervous and had a hard time with the position,” he said. “I ended up quitting because I didn’t like it.”

But by the time Ruvalcaba turned 17, he decided he didn’t like that he had failed on his first try, then quit, so he approached Weed Man franchise owner Corbin Schlatter about hiring him again.

“He came back when he was a senior in high school and did a complete turnaround,” Schlatter said. “He expressed an interest in summer work and we found a role for him in the field taking care of lawns.”

Ruvalcaba gave it his all and embraced learning about the company and the different jobs. Schlatter said they were impressed and gave him more and more responsibilities.

As the company tried to move into serving the Dayton area last year, they realized they needed a local presence to be successful.

“Managing from Columbus didn’t work well,” Schlatter said. “This year Christian is going to be working in Dayton and hiring local people, and we know we have a higher probability that he will carry on our culture and sharing our values to help us grow.”

That culture is focused on honesty and integrity, traits Schlatter learned growing up on a dairy farm. Weed Man likes to invest in its employees and create opportunities for growth. And growing his career is exactly what Ruvalcaba has been able to do over the past few years with the company.

“I wrestled in high school and learned not to shy away from failure,” Ruvalcaba said. “I came back and wanted to be successful, so I gave it my full effort.”

Ruvalcaba is today the marketing director for Dayton and has developed a good career for himself, while delaying college until he knew exactly what he wanted to do.

“After high school I wasn’t ready for college,” Ruvalcaba said. “I wasn’t mature enough and I didn’t think through how different choices could benefit my career.

Since moving into full-time work with the company three years ago, Ruvalcaba said he has been learning more than he would have in college and that in his case, hands-on experience is better way to grow. He is charged with creating a campaign in Dayton and filling part-time positions with high school and college students who are interested in growing a career like he has done.

“I’m trying to teach people how to go door to door first,” Ruvalcaba said. “We are looking for about 12 people to start and are recruiting heavily at Wright State and UD. I found this is a get-real-world work experience and there is a lot to learn about starting from the bottom and working up.”

Now 21, Ruvalcaba has decided to begin a degree program in business management and wants to continue moving up in the company that gave him his first job. Schlatter has mentored him along the way and Ruvalcaba has set his sights on one day owning a business, starting a family and traveling.

“One thing about Weed Man is that there are a lot of opportunities for growth and Christian is the embodiment of this,” Schlatter said. “He has built a career with a great opportunity to build new business from the ground up.”

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