Posted: Sep 29, 2019

Lessons learned from teaching new skills: Reflections on volunteering with JA

Jasmine Wu, Senior consultant, Deloitte Canada

We know that the careers paths of the future are quickly requiring digital literacy capabilities, and I feel that more should be done to help foster that growth within the next generation. In order to better prepare the younger generation in becoming savy entrepreneurs, I challenged myself to be a part of the solution. 

Over the past two years, I devoted more than three hours each week to Junior Achievement, working with students to help them achieve their dreams as entrepreneurs. JA is a non-profit organization focused on business education, facilitated through the help of real-world business volunteers. During the weekly sessions, a group of 30 students met in our Deloitte offices and alongside the volunteer advisors, and we helped the students launch a real business, operate it, sell their product or service, and then liquidate at the end of the program. I really believe this type of hands-on experiential program is the most valuable learning experience for these students. It allows them to take what they’re taught at school and actually put it into practice. Most importantly, it gives them a safe environment to try, to fail, and to learn from their ideas as well as mistakes.

Jasmine and Deloitte colleagues
Junior Achievement participants Mark Ang, Erica Wang, Rayah Ladak, and Jasmine Wu (left to right) 

One of my roles as a JA Company Program Advisor is to mentor the student who is elected to the role of president within their company. In the past two years, my partner and I worked closely with our student company presidents and helped them grow their competencies to become strong leaders. In this experience, I remembered what it felt like to have others believe in and support me along my own developmental journey, and it was so fulfilling to be able to help them build their confidence and leadership skills. At the end of the program, both student CEOs were nominated with a region-wide award recognizing their outstanding leadership and I could not have been more proud.

The past two years have been an exciting roller-coaster ride consisting of multiple ups and downs. In the end, our first company, myCryptoHippo, won three out of four JA company awards while also obtaining multiple national awards. Our second company, AcornTalent, generated revenues of over $3,530 in its first five months of operation and was nominated for all available JA company awards. It was really exciting to see the students succeed in this way, but I think what is more important than the awards and fanfare was knowing that we, a group of advisors from all walks of life, helped them to build the foundational and interpersonal skills that poises them to be really prepared for the jobs of the future. They now have the confidence to aspire towards anything.

I have told many people that joining JA was one of the best decisions I made, and I still live by it. The tremendous positive impact this experience has provided was not only on the younger generation but also on myself. The drive and motivation within this group is contagious and from this, I have started to push myself as well, looking for opportunities to further build my capabilities and continuously contribute back to the community.

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Deloitte Canada is providing young people with real-world business experience by supporting JA Company Program. Hear more from those involved and those impacted by this initiative by visiting our WorldClass page.