What I Could Make of Myself...
Oscar's Junior Achievement Story
Oscar got involved with Junior Achievement during his junior and senior years of high school. "This program was transformative for me." At the start of his junior year, Oscar was a straight C and D student. In his words, he had a "no homework policy". He thought school was a waste of time and nothing he was learning seemed practical. One day someone from Junior Achievement visited his high school to talk about the Company Program. A friend of his decided to apply, so Oscar did too.
It wasn't quite what he expected. Oscar learned that many of his thoughts about what it was like in business turned out to be wrong. "I thought I had to ask my boss for permission to leave my desk." He thought working was more like servitude and that companies treated employees like slaves. When he saw what work life was like at SAP America, the site that hosted his team, his understanding quickly changed. It's not like school where you have to ask to do everything and the day is structured for you.
Dave, a Company Program volunteer and current SAP employee describes what Oscar came to realize and why he loves working with students like Oscar, "SAP is more than just a place to work. It's an environement that cultivates and encourages innovation, collaboration, and personal growth. It's a culture of giving back to the community. Being a volunteer in the JA Company Program has allowed me to share my experiences learned at SAP with local high school students. Watching the students learn and grow over the course of 5 months is tremendously rewarding and it's why we, as volunteers, love to be a part of this program."
The team met every Tuesday at SAP's offices in Newtown Square. The meetings were awkward at first but as soon as they settled on a product idea, everyone was energized and motivated to work together as a team. That first year, their product, Victory Socks, placed second in the overall best company award at the local competition. They went on to the JA National Leadership Summit in Washington DC that year to compete with other students from JA areas across the country.
When the time came to apply again during Oscar's senior year, there was no question. He was going back to SAP and school became a new priority. When Oscar found JA he learned what was possible if he worked hard in school. "I learned the kind of future I could make for my family." Oscar changed from no homework to asking "when is the extra credit due". Oscar went to SAP every Tuesday. The meetings started at 5:30 but he was dependent on his mom to drop him off and she could only do that at 3:00. He sat in SAP's lobby for that extra 150 minutes each week and spent his time studying, going the extra mile to perform better in his company and improve his grades in school.
Oscar performed so well in the Company Program that SAP offered him a full time job before he graduated college. He's been working as an operations analyst directly for the president.
Because of what he learned from his mentors and volunteers, he's now proud to be a Temple Owl. When he graduates from college in 2019 with a degree in finance, he'll continue his full time job with the company that hosted him and mentored him through the program.
But what Oscar wants everyone to know is that he's not special. He says, "I'm not smarter or harder working than anyone else. I was just lucky—lucky to find JA and the mentors and volunteers I needed to turn my life around." What Oscar feels—and what all of us at JA feel is that we are indebted to every volunteer, every teacher and every donor. Without you there would be no success story for Oscar to tell. And he is one of thousands you have helped to see their futures differently.