Hundreds Participate in Job Exploration Day Junior Achievement Participation Multiplies

Hundreds Participate in Job Exploration Day Junior Achievement Participation Multiplies
Hundreds Participate in Job Exploration Day Junior Achievement Participation Multiplies
“As an organization, Junior Achievement believes in the boundless potential of young people and in the power of partnership and collaboration,” states Carol Lucio, executive director of Junior Achievement OKI Partners, Inc. “We want to help inspire and prepare young people to succeed.”


This is the third year that Lakota junior high school students, along with students from Hamilton and Fairfield schools, participated in JA’s Job Exploration Day in late March. With an initial group of 200 Lakota students visiting 16 job sites, the participation has grown to more than 600 Lakota junior high students  - or approximately 45 percent of the district’s 8th graders - visiting 30 businesses.

Students from all four Lakota junior high schools – Hopewell, Liberty, Plains and Ridge – discovered potential career paths through their visits. This year the focus was on transferable skills, as employers often note the need to instruct new employees in “soft” skills, such as corporate culture, interpersonal relations and business etiquette.

“From knowing what business casual means to how to properly shake hands, it is often those softer skills that can set apart a solid employee,” explains Lucio. “We’ve heard loud and clear from the employers that such experience and knowledge is crucial to helping a youth understand and be prepared for the business world.”

All of the companies participating this year agreed to incorporate such topics into their presentations. For example, the West Chester Liberty Chamber Alliance reviewed proper table manners during the lunch period with their visiting students. The businesses came up with many unique and captivating methods in which to engage and inform the students.

“Junior Achievement’s Job Exploration Day is a wonderful opportunity to introduce our junior high students to successful businesspeople who can serve as examples and inspiration,” says Dr. Lon Stettler, director of Lakota’s internship programs. “This step is the first of many job shadowing and internships that the district offers, ranging from introductory-type events to prolonged internships and mentorships that take a much deeper dive.”

A lot of connections are made during the day, with many students following up with the company they visited. The day also exposes local professionals to Lakota students.

“We received so many compliments about how the students engaged and how they represented themselves,” said Andre Gendreau, Ridge Junior principal. “It’s a great way to remind the community of the quality and character of our students.”

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Junior Achievement a Beacon of Hope

For Lakota West sophomore Julie Naylor, an eighth grade field trip changed her perspective on life.

Julie was part of the first group of Lakota junior high school students offered the opportunity to participate in Lakota’s Junior Achievement job exposure day. Her visit to a local technology company, Contingent, “opened her eyes to the vast world of business,” helping her discover a passion for technology as a potential career.

More important than that, though: “The Junior Achievement program gave me the hope that I was longing for,” Julie said.

Her desire for hope was rooted in the bouts of poverty and homelessness she had experienced throughout her childhood, now more of a distant memory. At a recent Lakota school board meeting, Julie shared with the community how Junior Achievement literally transformed her outlook for the future. It was the same story she had shared at the Junior Achievement breakfast earlier this year, after being selected from thousands of students who have participated in the program, at Lakota and other Butler and Warren county districts.

  
Julie Naylor was recognized during the Student Spotlight segment at a recent Board of Education meeting.

“Poverty is all some children see in their day to day lives. If they can’t see opportunity, then we need to bring opportunity to them,” said Julie, acknowledging how grateful she was for that chance.

“There seems to be an occupation for all different kinds of people, depending on what their interests are,” Julie observed at Contingent. “No one individual should go without finding a career that they are advanced in and enjoy.”

Julie attributes her enthusiasm, confidence and motivation to succeed in school to the epiphany she had through Junior Achievement. She hopes that other students, especially those who have faced similar struggles, might have a similar experience early in their education.

“Once they find hope, they find motivation. Once they find motivation, they drive toward success. And once they find success, they make the world a much better place,” Julie stated in her closing comments.