Students statewide explore career options virtually with Junior Achievement Inspire - AZEdNews
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Students statewide explore career options virtually with Junior Achievement Inspire

Students statewide explore career options virtually with Junior Achievement Inspire JAI2022-1024x473
Junior Achievement of Arizona’s virtual career exploration fair is the second step of its JA Inspire program for middle and high school students. Image courtesy Junior Achievement of Arizona

By Junior Achievement of Arizona

What if you could help your students explore some of Arizona’s most in-demand jobs while providing access to career readiness instruction they may not have access to otherwise? Junior Achievement of Arizona (JA) has created a one-of-a-kind program JA Inspire to help students understand the skills, knowledge, behaviors and attitudes they need to build to become successful in the workforce.

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Engaging primarily low-income middle and high school students, the JA Inspire program provides career awareness and exploration opportunities to give them the confidence to pursue high-wage, high-quality jobs while connecting them with some of the state’s top industries and businesses through an on-demand virtual experience.

A survey from McGraw-Hill reported only 43 percent of high school seniors feel “very” or “extremely” prepared for their future careers. JA Inspire utilizes a collaborative approach, preparatory lessons, and assessments alongside a virtual job fair to prepare students for life after high school. Post-program, JA has seen a 40 percent knowledge gain around the career-readiness knowledge of participants.

Junior Achievement of Arizona video: JA Inspire Virtual

JA Inspire’s three-step process starts with an online, pre-event career assessment and interactive career exploration lessons that builds knowledge and gets students ready to meet industry professionals. The second step is the virtual career exploration fair where students can attend live, virtual interviews and panels to further hone the skills they have learned, access valuable career information, and visit interactive booths from Arizona’s top employers in six industry-specific exhibit halls. The final step is for students to complete a post-event reflection and debrief that puts what they have learned into perspective with their career goals and begin penciling next steps on that journey.

On average, students who participate in the three-step process explore 10 Arizona employer booths per visit and spend about three hours interacting within the virtual experience. Other benefits of taking part include being able to revisit what they’ve learned using a ‘virtual backpack’ to store videos and panels and long-term connections that act as a resource for finding jobs, apprenticeships and internships.

“I really enjoyed how interactive the whole experience was and how I could control what I want to look into and do,” said a 9th grade student attending Queen Creek High School.

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Students taking part in Junior Achievement Inspire in the classroom with their teacher. Image courtesy Junior Achievement of Arizona.

JA Inspire was built to be adaptive across learning environments. The virtual format makes it accessible for Arizona’s range of geographic locations, bringing career readiness to students in rural, suburban, urban and tribal communities. Since it is designed to be implemented and effective across a range of learning formats and environments, the program has been widely successful for use in the shifting in-person and online instruction experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students who have completed the program report a positive outlook on the skills and experience they gained from participating. 93% of Arizona middle and high school students who have participated in JA Inspire would recommend it to their friends, and 87% of students learned about a new career path and/or learned more information about a current career path they were already interested in pursuing.

But it’s not just JA Inspire driving students to success post-graduation. More than half of JA alumni have gone on to complete their bachelor’s degree or higher, and more than half have started their own business. JA alumni are also more likely to report an increase in their standard of living between childhood and adult – a strong indicator of economic mobility.

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A teacher answers a student’s question as part of the JA Inspire program. Image courtesy Junior Achievement of Arizona

“I loved how relatable it was to real life and how informative it was,” said an 11th grade student attending Eastmark High School.

Want to get your students involved now or in the 22-23 school year? Sign up now.

It’s turnkey and easy to start the process – Junior Achievement will help facilitate each step of the way. The intent is to streamline implementation for teachers so that their students get maximum impact with light effort on part of educators.

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JA Inspire virtual is free for teachers and students and correlates to Arizona educational standards. Image courtesy of Junior Achievement of Arizona

Additionally, middle and high school students can register for free to access JA Inspire from home.

JA Inspire partners with schools across Arizona, the Department of Education, and local organizations including Pipeline AZ, Center for the Future of Arizona and Arizona Business & Education Coalition.

To join the movement as an educator, parent or corporate partner, visit jaaz.org/programs/ja-inspire.

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