It's easy to feel self-indulgent as an MBA student, after taking 2 years off to dedicate countless hours and tens of thousands of dollars to pursue a new career. And, then, of course there's the theme parties. But one thing that, without fail, brings me back to reality is the opportunity to volunteer with Junior Achievement. "JA" as it is called is one of three charitable organizations that is supported by Challenge 4 Charity, a competition among 9 California MBA programs. Each team spends the year collecting volunteer hours and dollars to win the "Golden Briefcase" and help three wonderful non-profits in the process.
On Friday, despite the rain-pocalypse (i.e. 2-3 inches of rain), more than 100 Anderson students came out to participate in JA Career Day. The morning session included panel discussions on Academics and Careers. Four Anderson students were selected to share their stories in each panel. As one of the moderators, although I had met each one before, I was, once again, awestruck by the incredible acheivements, fascinating perspectives, and, best of all, genuine humility of my classmates. The panel included an intelligence officer who was inspired at an early age by Harriet the Spy, a college athlete turned actor who started his own production company, a published journalist, and a Census bureau analyst whose economic indicator was featured on CNN. A few of the other Anderson students who attended the panel as "buddies" to the high school students mentioned that they found the panels as informative and interesting as the students--and I agree wholeheartedly!
Following the panel discussions, we were given "Buddy TIme" to spend one-on-one with the high school students. I was extremely impressed by the students I met; at 17 or 18, they had clear-cut dreams and aspirations and were well-versed in the tools necessary to accomplish those goals. One of the young women we met was hoping to go into medicine; the other wanted to be a writer. As high school juniors, they were applying for internships, writing fellowships, and thinking about how college can help them achieve their career goals. This mindset permeates the JA student community; the students are educated not only on the typical high school subjects but on relevant real-world preparation.
Thanks to the hard work of our C4C board who planned the event, JA Shadow Day was a rewarding experience for both the participants and Anderson volunteers. Career day is just one of the programs offered by this incredible organization. Find out more about how you can get involved here.