Burned out by the hospitality industry, he got a job at Four Seasons Total Landscaping (‘Yes, that one’) | Lifestyle
Meet Cameron Corbett, a hospitality veteran recently hired by Four Seasons Total Landscaping as part of a new professional development program.
• Always sociable: “As a child I was quite open as I am now. I was on Kids Say the Darndest Things with Art Linkletter when I was in preschool. “
• Four Stars: “I remember telling my mom that I got a job at Four Seasons Total Landscaping. She said, “Wait a minute?” and I said, “Yeah, this one.” She says, “Oh my god you would!” My non-Philly friends and family know very well what this is. “
As a child in Dayton, Ohio, Cameron Corbett grew up in bars with his grandfather. His “Pop Pop” gave him a roost role for the jukebox and Corbett sang and danced for the guests whose tips paid for this grandfather’s drinks.
“I grew up more or less into speakeasies,” said Corbett. “I learned to be a wingman very early on.”
For much of his adult life, Corbett was in the hospitality industry, working as a bartender, waiter and manager in restaurants and hotels from Panama to Philly. Corbett, a charming interlocutor and self-proclaimed “interview bomber,” thought that hospitality jobs were easy to come by.
But work began to reach him.
“I got to the point where I was extremely burned out and needed a change, but I wasn’t sure how to do it,” said Corbett, 40, of West Philly. “When the pandemic broke out and all restaurants were closed, I had a moment where I came to Jesus. I had unconsciously prayed for this – a break from hospitality. “
He got into sourdough appetizers and soap making, but when Corbett, a longtime gardener who has pineapple and banana trees in his home, saw a Facebook post from Councilor Jamie Gauthier about a new professional training program for positions at Four Seasons Total Landscaping in Northeast Philly , he knew it was the right fit.
And yes, Corbett also knew that Four Seasons became famous last year as the unlikely location of a Rudy Giuliani Trump campaign press conference.
“I was definitely aware of 45’s fiddling,” he said. “This press conference was insane. You couldn’t even get the right four seasons. “
But Corbett did.
After a three-week joint training program by the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative of the University City District and the Navy Yard Workforce Development Initiatives of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. Corbett was hired by Four Seasons in March as a full-time employee with benefits.
“I’m happier now. Even if it’s freezing cold and raining and my feet are soaking wet and I smell like death, it’s better, ”he said. “With the work I do now, I give some life back and it has meaning.”
Corbett came to Philly seven years ago when his husband, who is now a therapist, was accepted into Drexel University graduate school. Before Philly, Corbett lived in Dayton, Indianapolis, Panama and Los Angeles, where he pursued a career as a dancer and made appearances with Nivea, Jagged Edge and Sean Paul. Corbett, who specializes in hip-hop and reggaeton, said he learned to dance “on the street” and record Janet Jackson videos as a child.
“Even now, someone could always say ‘Janet Jackson’s If or Rhythm Nation’ and I can turn the dance off,” he said.
During his time in Philly, Corbett worked everywhere from the Independence Beer Garden in Center City to the Tavern on Camac in the Gayborhood. He didn’t think he’d stand a chance when he applied for the landscaping training program in January because he had no landscaping experience. Of 116 applicants, he was one of 13 chosen, one of nine employees and one of six remaining with Four Seasons, according to Chris Richman, director of marketing and communications for the university borough.
The collaborative training program, an extension of the West Philly Skills Initiative launched in 2011, works with employers who need to train residents of West and South Philly for full-time careers. Four Seasons was selected as the first employer for the new collaboration because of its long-term contract with Navy Yard (other participating employers are SEPTA and the University of Pennsylvania). The university borough and PIDC signed the Four Seasons deal just days before the now infamous press conference.
“We wondered how your moment in the spotlight would affect our recruiting and programming plans,” said Richman. “In the end, Four Seasons handled the whole situation so well and with such a good sense of humor that we ultimately decided there was nothing to worry about.”
The training lasted three weeks. During this time, participants received a grant of $ 150 per week. Corbett said not only did he get OSHA and equipment training, but the group also did improvisation work and team building exercises.
“At first I was a little astute and thought that would be so helpful to me because I was in management,” said Corbett. “But in the end, I was so happy that I went through it all because my skills in the pandemic weren’t as tight as I thought.”
Sean Middleton, Four Seasons sales director, said the program not only helps potential employees but also employers.
“People like Cameron who have gone through this program have more training than anyone else we hired before,” he said.
One day at the Navy Yard when Corbett was hauling wheelbarrows full of mulch and his amethyst studs gleaming in the sun, he said his new career had improved his sleep, motivation, and sanity.
“At the end of the day when I was walking out of a restaurant, the best satisfaction was leaving or drinking that after-work drink,” he said. Once we’ve put in an hour of work everything looks beautiful and people walk by and say, ‘Thank you for cleaning up our neighborhood.’ “
The only disadvantage?
“My 40-year-old body is still getting used to waking up at 4:30 a.m. every day,” he said.
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