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Faith McKiver - How the JA BizTown Internship Inspired Me

Working in the Junior Achievement of Central Ohio (JA BizTown) program was an amazing opportunity.  I first learned about this program through my internship coordinator, Mrs. Diawara.  She piqued my interest in how well she described the program.  She explained that I would learn all about finance, early childhood education, and running a business.  I was intrigued by the opportunity, and I also still needed the required 120 internship hours to graduate.  I thought to myself, what an excellent opportunity!  On the other hand, I was a bit apprehensive about accepting the JA BizTown Internship, because I knew nothing about finance, nor educating younger children.  Today, I am glad that I did not let my apprehensiveness get the best of me!

Through the JA BizTown internship, I learned several things about myself.  I learned how to have fun with children, and how to make the JA BizTown experience more fun for the children.  I also learned the importance of budgeting and saving money.  As a result, I feel better prepared to manage upcoming student loans and scholarship money.

In the fall of 2017, I will begin a new academic journey at the Columbus State Community College.

The JA Biztown internship has given me the confidence to pursue business management as a major.  Furthermore, I am the first person in my family to attend college.

Early on in life, I realized the importance of going to college.  I knew that I did not want to live paycheck to paycheck, or to accrue an excessive amount of debt to attend school.   I simply desire more out of life.  Going to college is a blessing for me.  It is a chance at financial freedom and multiple career opportunities for me as well as my family.  Through my personal experience, I want other students, (including the JA BizTown students), to see me, and to know that they can accomplish any academic or career goal they desire. I strive to be a positive role model for all students.

Junior Achievement's Leadership Academy

What are the benefits of having an internship in High School?

  • Higher confidence?
  • Help deciding a college major?
  • Or perhaps just learning the basics of what it means to be a professional?

All of these reasons are why Junior Achievement (JA) of Central Ohio, along with the help of the Columbus Alternative High School (CAHS), decided to create the JA Leadership Academy. In 2014 and 2015 JA started working with students from CAHS to help run JA BizTown, a simulation where fifth grade students run a miniature city for the day, but it wasn’t until 2016 when the JA Leadership Academy was formed.

"In November of 2015 I met with Samantha Smith, the internship coordinator at CAHS, to discuss how we could use this experience of volunteering at JA BizTown to better prepare students for life after high school,” said Pete Crozier, Vice President of JA Capstone Programs and JA Leadership Academy Founder. “In a brainstorming session we wrote down what skills the students needed once out of school and the different kinds of activities to provide those skills."

The JA Leadership Academy program sets out to teach its interns public speaking skills, career success, and a healthy understanding of risk and failure while building students’ confidence along the way.

"We don’t know what types of environments these students will encounter or what experiences they will have, but we want them to have the confidence to handle any situation – whether that means not being afraid to ask for help or taking a risk," said Crozier.

[caption id="attachment_198" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]group-pic-2 JA Leadership Academy Interns during their visit to Cardinal Health.[/caption]

CAHS students are able to participate in the JA Leadership Academy because of the CAHSmic Internship eXperience, a program allowing juniors and seniors to attend an unpaid internship each Wednesday between early October and late April in lieu of attending school.

“This time spent on an internship is invaluable. It provides a structured environment for students to explore career fields or to engage their communities in unique and often needed ways, as well as providing students a better understanding of themselves, what it is that drives them,” said CAHS Internship Coordinator, Samantha Smith.

For example, first year intern and CAHS senior Anthony Wolff wants to go to school and become a teacher. However, he wanted to make sure he actually enjoyed working with kids before deciding if that would be his major. Good news, his favorite part of JA Leadership Academy is working with kids!

“It has allowed me to interact with students of different ages and backgrounds which taught me patience but has also increased my eagerness to become a teacher!” said Wolff.

Tatyana Payne, second year intern and CAHS Senior, discovered working with kids all day was not what she would want to do for her career. However, she learned that she is a good problem solver.

“There was a day at JA BizTown where several of my students only spoke Spanish. I know very little Spanish so to ensure they still received help and a good experience I took out my phone and used Google Translate to communicate with them,” she said.

Now that is ingenuity!

Volunteering their time at JA BizTown, CAHS students hone their interpersonal communication skills, conflict resolution skills, and problem solving skills.

Mrs. Smith commented, “I have seen timid students who at the beginning of their junior year were unable to make direct eye contact when speaking transform to bold, bubbly people at the end of their internship.”

In fact, two of the interns, Amber Owens and Quoran Knights, spoke in front of over 400 people at this year’s Hall of Fame, as they introduced the Educator of the Year – their very own Internship Coordinator, Mrs. Smith. Deja Reid also presented on behalf of JA in front of 300 people at a Women in Tech conference this past fall.

[gallery ids="199,193,195" type="rectangular"]

In addition to helping run JA BizTown shops, the interns also visit several companies/organizations throughout the year to learn about different career paths and industries available to them. Some of those trips included visiting CD 102.5, City Hall, and Cardinal Health.

If you know of any opportunities for JA Leadership Academy interns to learn more about your career or industry please contact Pete Crozier at pcrozier@jacols.org. Or if you would like to partner with CAHS and their CAHSmic Internship eXperience they are currently looking for after-school or summer opportunities. You can contact Samantha Smith at ssmith2@columbus.k12.oh.us for more information.

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Press Releases

JA USA® Press Releases



  • "I can't think of a better gift for kids than to prepare them for success in the real world." - Aaron Bahe, Columbus City School Teacher

  • "I loved being the mayor of JA BizTown. I now have a good understanding of how busy business can be." - Gabbie Schneider, JA BizTown Student

  • "I loved my job as the CFO! It was so much fun. If I did this everyday it would be great!" - JA BizTown Student

  • "Kids are capable of more than we know. JA is a great way to demonstrate the real life skills they will all need." JA of Central Ohio Volunteer

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