Standing out: Students learn workforce skills, compete for internships
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Standing out: Students learn workforce skills, compete for internships

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  • Katie Snyder/ HMA Public Relations

Junior Achievment HP

“It helps to have an edge when applying to college and entering the workforce,” says Joyce Richards, president at Junior Achievement of Arizona.

And last week, Richards along with over 100 Valley business professionals and volunteers challenged students to find just that during the annual JA You’re Hired! event at the Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix. Over 400 students from all over the Valley gathered to participate in a series of workshops and competitions that focused on future career success.

Standing out: Students learn workforce skills, compete for internships jayh-12thyr-20140328094935HP

More than 100 Valley business professionals and volunteers challenged 400 students to focus on future career success during the annual Junior Achievement You’re Hired! event at the Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix. Students from Sunrise Mountain High School in Peoria from left to right, Natalynn Masters, Jordan Taylor, Steven Bertram, Zach Damron, Nick Van Hoy, Ryan Cale, Haylie Konakis, Hannah Finch , Kevin Hong and Abbie Waters. Photo courtesy Junior Achievment

“In the weeks leading up to the event, the students were actively engaged in relevant lessons led in class by JAAZ volunteers to prepare them for the JA You’re Hired! Challenge,” said Richards. “During that time students received proper training on interview techniques among other essential workplace readiness skills.”

The JA You’re Hired! Challenge is a part of a three component, award winning program created by JAAZ to develop high school students’ to be better equipped after high school when entering into college or the workforce.

“We realize the importance of partnering with Valley schools in delivering the curriculum that is needed to transition these students from schools to colleges and careers,” said Richards. “JA You’re Hired! teaches students those skills and does so in a realistic, competitive environment to help them make smart academic and economic choices.”.

These skills were put to the test the day of the JA You’re Hired! Challenge when dozens of hiring managers from all over the Valley came and tested the students on their abilities through mock interviews, marketing pitches and critical thinking exercises.  

“What is truly unique about this program is that it goes beyond lessons and workshops,” said Richards. “Students actually went through the hiring process and were able to apply everything they had been learning inside the classroom.”

And while most students walked away with a lifetime’s worth of knowledge and job advice, others were lucky enough to land summer internships.

“Much like the real world, not everyone gets the job,” said Richards. “But the most important takeaway for the students was the skills and knowledge they need to be prepared for whatever challenges they may face in job market.”

Those students selected, students will continue to the third component of the program, which is comprised of successfully completing a paid internship with regular correspondence between the employer and Junior Achievement advisors.

“Every year we are blessed to be able to partner with a dozen Arizona companies including those from the financial, education, technology, nonprofit, retail and business sectors, among others,” said Richards. “Without them, this program wouldn’t be possible.”

For more information about Junior Achievement of Arizona, visit