A couple weeks ago, I got the chance to mentor a group of high school students as a part of Junior Achievement Business Week. This turned out to be one of the most fun/fulfilling things I’ve ever done. Here’s a little background on Junior Achievement:
Junior Achievement (JA) is the world’s largest organization dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. Through a dedicated volunteer network, Junior Achievement provides in-school and after-school programs for students which focus on three key content areas: entrepreneurship, financial literacy and work readiness. The goal is to teach concepts through experiential learning, allowing young people to put their new knowledge and skills into practice.
To prepare young people to thrive in the 21st century workplace and global economy by inspiring a passion in free enterprise and entrepreneurship and instilling an understanding of personal financial literacy.
I was referred to JA through a good friend of mine who had volunteered for it before and it sounded fun so I jumped at the opportunity. The timing of the camp was perfect as I was in Denver for business at the time. Here’s what went down at the camp.
The camp started on Sunday and was held at Johnson and Wales University in Denver. There were around 250 kids from different high schools all across Denver that participated this year as well as around 20 Company Advisors. A Company Advisor or CA for short is a volunteer position where you mentor and guide a group of kids with their business project throughout the week. Each Company Advisor had around 10-15 students in their group all chosen randomly.
Each team was assigned a task to complete by the end of the week. The tasks ranged from creating and marketing a new smoothie for Jamba Juice, planning and executing a Madden 2013 video game launch party, and putting on a promotional event for the new hockey team the Denver Cutthroats. My team was assigned the Cutthroats task and given a budget of $15,000 to throw on the event. The point of all this is that all the teams competed against each other to see who came up with the best idea/plan. On the last day of camp, each team would present their plans to a panel of professional judges- who would ultimately decide on the winners of each task. It was basically like a junior version of The Apprentice!
The week was super jammed packed with business activities. The day would officially start at 8am and would go until 10pm everyday. Each day was different but there were certain things that stayed constant such as company meetings, business workshops, team building activities, particular assemblies etc. One of the most exciting activities in my opinion was when we all took the bus downtown to the Marriott hotel for a networking event. There we had company photos taken and had dessert and drinks (non-alcoholic of course) while we networked with other professionals and students.
Here is our company photo at the networking event:
Another fun activity was when we all took the bus to a music venue to do a job interview workshop- it was like speed dating but for job interviews, all the students got to go around to different tables and pitch themselves to different professionals in various industries. Most of these workshops were super hands on and interactive which I really liked, not to mention they were fun activities. I kept thinking the whole time how I wish I knew about this when I was in high school!
The camp went until Friday and was pretty intense considering all the things we had to get done before our big presentation. We had to prepare a full on marketing plan, playbook with logistic/budget/schedule/map/activities for the event, as well as a 5 minute powerpoint presentation to present to the judges on Friday.
It was really amazing to see the whole team come together throughout the week. On Sunday no one knew each other and were a bit shy but at the end of the week everyone came together as one strong team. We were able to start with NOTHING and create an in depth event proposal with a marketing plan and powerpoint all in ONE week, pretty cool stuff. I want to take the time right now to make a shoutout to my team.
COMPANY P SHOUTOUTS:
Bailey- At only 15 years old, you truly impressed me. You were given the role as project manager for the team and your organization/leadership skills def shown through and proved itself. Great work and I’m super excited to see what the future holds for you.
Alejandro- You are one slick guy. Very creative and you work well under pressure. Multi talented as well!
Darien- Great work working with the team. Solid ideas and professional in how you presented yourself.
Elizabeth (Jasmine)- You were so shy in the beginning but ended up coming out of the camp confident and strong! Always had great energy and asked a lot of good questions. So proud of you for getting outside your comfort zone!
Olivia- Focused, reserved, and laid back. Did an amazing job presenting on Friday. You were a total expert in how you presented with your body language, vocal tonality, and overall confidence. So proud of you!
Lulu and Morgan- Always hangin around each other… You guys were so fun to be around and brought great energy to the group!
Dau- Dau the man! You were a total blast to be around and brought infectious energy to the group as well as laughter and good times. You have great people skills and make people around you feel comfortable very quickly. Not to mention you have the DEEPEST, manliest voice for a 17 year old lol.
Alexandra- First off your choice in music is awesome Second you are such an artist, very creative. Thanks for bringing your creativity/coolness to the group.
Sumeet- I feel like you are going to start the next Google or something man, you kept to yourself most of the time but I can tell you are extremely smart. Excited to see what the future holds for you!
Davion- Always fallin asleep in those workshops! Haha I know you had bad allergies that week but man you brought so much to the group. Always positive and coming up with new ideas and ways to contribute. Excited for your sports business to take off!
Judit- Your energy was so positive and you always had a smile on your face. Thanks for bringing that to the group
In closing I want to mention that our team Company P took FIRST PLACE in the Cutthroats task. Soooo proud of everyone, we did it guys! Also want to say that I had an absolute blast at this camp and look forward to being a part of it again in the years to come. What Junior Achievement is doing for all these kids is truly amazing. This country was built on the idea of entrepreneurship and we need more of it in this day in age. There is so much opportunity for business if you work hard and commit yourself to success. Excited to see all these kids just kill it in their ventures. Rock on, Company P 2013 baby!
Check out the pics below!