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Junior Achievement, Microsoft Prepare Valley Students

Junior Achievement of Arizona (JAAZ) and Microsoft announced a new collaboration as part of the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative to help local students explore careers in the technology hardware and software industries.

Through Microsoft YouthSpark, students from GateWay Early College High School, Girls Leadership Academy, Mesa High School and Skyline High School participated in the JA Job Shadow program, including teacher-led classroom instruction around key work-readiness skills such as leadership, teamwork and how to conduct a successful job search. The students visited a Microsoft Retail Store for a day-long mentoring experience giving them a first-hand glimpse into the world of work and the opportunity to apply their classroom learning.

“We are thrilled to partner with Microsoft to help students develop and enhance skills needed for future career pursuits,” said Joyce Richards, president of JAAZ.  “Through JA Job Shadow, students will learn resume writing, job interviewing and decision making, to help position them for success in the workforce.”

Students in the Phoenix-metro area join youth in 49 other communities across the United States to participate in the effort.

Junior Achievement JA You’re Hired! Challenge 2011

Junior Achievement JA You’re Hired! Challenge Teaches Students Workforce Skills

Hundreds of Valley high school students learn workforce skills, compete for internships at the Junior Achievement of Arizona (JAAZ) JA You’re Hired! Challenge at the Tempe Center for the Arts


According to a 21st Century Skills study, 42 percent of employers rate the overall preparation of high school graduates for entry-level jobs as deficient. On March 29, more than 350 Valley high school students will defy this statistic at the Junior Achievement of Arizona (JAAZ) JA You’re Hired! Challenge at the Tempe Center for the Arts.

The JA You’re Hired! Challenge is a part of a three component, award-winning program created by JAAZ in partnership with the University of Phoenix to develop high school students’ work-readiness skills, many of which are not addressed in a normal high school curriculum.

“We realize that even some of the best schools lack the ‘real world’ lessons that are needed to transition from student to employee,” says Joyce Richards, president of JAAZ. “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.”

The first component is a rigorous curriculum led in class by Junior Achievement volunteers to prepare them for the JA You’re Hired! Challenge. Over the course of a few weeks, students learn proper interview techniques; work to improve their writing, language, math and critical thinking skills; and how to apply what they learn in the classroom to real life situations.

These skills are then put to the test by nearly 50 Phoenix area hiring managers who will be on-site the day of the JA You’re Hired! Challenge. They will be testing the students on their abilities through mock interviews, marketing pitches and public speaking exercises.

Some of the hiring managers will be offering summer internships. Students selected 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.

“What is truly unique about this program is that it goes beyond lessons and workshops,” Richards says. “Students actually go through the hiring process and apply everything this program has taught them. And like the real world, not everyone gets the job, but at least now they are prepared for whatever challenges they may face in the job market.”

This year’s JA You’re Hired! Challenge program is made possible thanks to the generous support of University of Phoenix and community partners, such as Phoenix Suns Charities, Triton Technologies, Crexando, FedEx, Allstate, bluemedia, Charles Schwab, Manpower, SHRM and others.

For more information on Junior Achievement or ways to get involved, please call 480-377-8500 or visit jaaz.org.

About Junior Achievement of Arizona
Junior Achievement is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization which believes that every child deserves an education in economics and finances in order to inspire and prepare them for success in a global economy. Serving Arizona’s youth since 1957, JA prepares young people for the real world by showing them how to become self-sufficient, how to create jobs which make their communities robust, and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace. Junior Achievement of Arizona reached nearly 83,000 students during the 2010-2011 school year.