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Shining a Spotlight on American Business Women’s Day

September 22 is American Business Women’s Day, a day to honor and reflect on the accomplishments, successes, and contributions of American women and female business owners in the workforce. The day was first celebrated in 1949 by the American Business Women’s Association and officially recognized by Congress in the early 1980s.

Today, Junior Achievement celebrates the 75 million women in the workforce by shining a light on 3 women from various industries who have reached and accomplished business success.

Tammy Barlette is co-founder of Athena’s Voice, a professional speaker company featuring 13 female fighter pilots from around the United StatesBarlette is a fighter pilot who served in the United States Air Force for over 20 years, retiring in September of 2018 as a Lieutenant Colonel.  She has flown multiple aircraft, including the T-37 Tweet, T-38 Talon, A-10 Warthog, MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper, accumulating more than 3,000 total flying hours and over 1,500 hours of combat support time assisting and protecting troops on the ground in both Iraq and Afghanistan. She is also a graduate of the prestigious US Air Force Weapons School and has a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry. Lt Col Barlette lives in Tucson, Arizona, is married to a Federal Agent and has three children.


Yeva is the Co-Founder and CEO of SoloLearn, a global community of mobile code learners participating in the most engaging way to learn and interact with fellow coders around the world. With millions of coder profiles, SoloLearn is becoming a popular hub for young people to improve their competitive ranking in today’s world. Yeva holds an MBA Degree from Maastricht School of Management (the Netherlands) and is an Executive Program graduate from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. She started off implementing World Bank and USG programs in business and education, then sales, developer ecosystem development, and strategic partnerships as a general manager at Microsoft. More recently, she’s built a startup accelerator that created mobile games, robots, and ag-tech solutions. A coding boot camp was founded back in 2010 to pay for this, and still boasts of an 80% placement rate. It took a lot quick thinking, learning from successes and mistakes, from non-existing sources. These experiences were reflected in SoloLearn, which changes how programmers learn, build their professional reputations, and get jobs.


Yunha Kim is the Founder and CEO of Simple Habit, an award-winning app for daily stress relief.Simple Habit offers a personalized approach to your mental wellness needs. Discover more than 2,000 guided audio sessions from world-class meditation teachers, therapists and coaches. Simple Habit helps busy people care for their mental wellness in just 5 minutes. 

Founded in 2016, Simple Habit is now the #1 rated meditation app in the App store and 2018 Google Play Award Winner for Standout Wellbeing App. The app boasts 40,000 five-star reviews. Simple Habit has raised $12.8 million from investors including Foundation Capital, Y Combinator, New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and many other prominent CEOs in Silicon Valley, including Dropbox’s CEO Drew Houston and Gusto’s CEO Joshua Reeves.

Kim began her career in investment banking and built her first startup Locket when she was 23-years-old. Kim began to meditate to help manage the stress of startup life. The idea to build a more diverse, practical meditation app came to Kim when she was pursuing her MBA at Stanford. She dropped out of Stanford after one semester to build Simple Habit into the leading mental wellness platform for busy, stressed-out people. In 2017, Kim was honored by Forbes 30 Under 30 and Marie Claire's New Guard

Get to know the Trio: JA Q & A

 What does American Business Women’s Day mean to you?

Tammy Barlette: Having a day designated to honor women in business is a great opportunity to appreciate the challenges that have been overcome by so many.  For me, it is a reminder to stop, and recognize the accomplishments of women in business, paying particular attention to the pioneers. So many of the stories of those who were first have gotten buried and uncovering them is fascinating, inspirational and educational.

Yeva Hyusyan: I am not a big fan of days dedicated to Some Group.  If such a day exists, it indicates an unresolved issue, such as Women’s Day signals that there is something wrong with women in society. That's why I’d rather not have any “special” days. I’m not talking about holidays like Christmas or Halloween though.

Yunha Kim: It's an opportunity to celebrate businesswomen who have made a positive impact on our world. 

What is the best business or life advice you ever received?

Tammy Barlette: The best advice all around that has been given to me is, “it is not about you, it is never about you.”  This is something I always felt in my heart and one of the reasons I almost did not go into the speaking business.  I had thought, “I am not special, I just took a unique path and worked really hard.  I do not want to be in the spotlight.”  The ladies of Athena’s Voice speak to share the wisdom they have gained from their very unique life experiences.  The powerful messages shared through their stories shifts the way people think, guides them down different paths or highlights opportunity where they had not seen it before.  It is about the audience…always, in life and in business.

Yeva Hyusyan: “If you want quick results don’t think and act as a woman in man-dominated environments.”

Yunha Kim: “If you have an idea and you are passionate about it, pursue it to the best of your ability.”

What were, or is, your biggest challenge in being a woman in business or in your business industry? Biggest Advantage?

Tammy Barlette: Specifically addressing my current industry of professional speaking, the biggest challenge is shifting people’s mindsets away from the idea that our primary audience is women.  This is clearly a very important group to us and we take every opportunity we can to make a positive impact.  It is just as important, if not more, that we get in front of diverse audiences.  Our stories and messages offer unique perspectives that a broad range of audiences can benefit from.  Additionally, by getting in front of audiences that are predominantly male, we have the opportunity to make a positive impact on how women are perceived in the world.  That alone is a powerful influencer on the path to opening more opportunities for women. 

I will be quite frank here, even though being a women in the working world has come with many challenges, there are places where being a woman has the advantage.  The immense opportunity given to women in this day and age due to the movement to equalize things has opened a lot of doors that are not open to men.  I recognize that, don’t let those opportunities pass and utilize them to make the world a better place.  Balance is optimum and I look forward to the gender gap closing and a merge taking place where gender is not such an issue anymore.

Yeva Hyusyan:  I find being a woman an advantage today because the world is in need for a different perspective.  The challenge is to learn the language that has been created and refined over hundreds of years in male-dominated businesses.  

Other than the above, the business is about being the best – the smartest, the fastest, the most agile… being of a certain gender doesn’t help much…

Yunha Kim: Being a woman hasn't impacted my ability to fundraise or grow our company. Like many situations in life, I think it's all about how you frame your perspective. 

What is your favorite song or quote to inspire or motivate you?

Tammy Barlette: “When quitting is not an option, you find another way…don’t let it be an option.”    -Tammy “G.” Barlette

Yeva Hyusyan: There are many. Very much depends on the mood and what I’m up to. 

Yunha Kim: Mark Twain said it. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Basically… YOLO!

Trade School: A College Alternative in 2019

A survey conducted by Gallup and Strada Education Network revealed that 36% of those who attended college regret their choice of major. Of those who pursued or completed a bachelor’s degree, findings uncovered that 40% would pick a different field of study. That’s roughly $25,000 a year, for a student who is in-state attending a four-year university, to decide that their degree was not the best choice for them.

According to Mark Danaher, a career counselor at Newington High School in Newington, Connecticut, “My feeling is that high school students don’t have to know the exact career they want, but they should know how to explore careers and put time into investigating them and learning about their skills and interests.”

At 18 or 19, we are expecting teens to know their career-path and putting a hefty price tag on pursuing what they believe is the right option for them. But, are they being given all their options? All the while, some teens may not be exposed to alternatives outside of attending colleges, such as vocational schools.

To assist in the discovery of which path is right for you or your teen, here is an overview of how trade schools could be the perfect fit!

The Difference Between Trade and Vocational Schools

Vocational and trade schools are similar in nature as they both offer an accelerated path to get into a specific career. While most use them interchangeably as an educational institution that teaches individuals for a particular skill set, some identify them as having smaller differentiations. According to the U.S. Department of Education, technical schools teach the theory and science behind an occupation, while vocational schools may take a more hands-on approach to teach skills.

The Unique Perks of Attending a Trade School

Unlike traditional colleges, trade schools focus on one specific area of “trade” learning. This hyper-focus on a specific skill enables trade-schools to offer smaller classrooms with more one-on-one learning opportunities for the students. Additionally, vocational schools educate students of industry-specific rules and regulation, as well as real-work experiences to enable them to get familiar with the type of work they are pursuing.

The amount of time it takes to successfully complete trade school is another perk to this vocational path. While programs vary, vocational training can go from as little as ten weeks. In turn, this makes this educational career path highly appealing to those who are seeking to get into a profession as soon as possible.

With the unique benefits of vocation schooling, this route isn’t just for those who have graduated high school but also for those who are planning to enter a specific industry for the first time, reenter the workforce, and for those who are seeking to change their career path. The diversity amongst trade school students enables them to network and learn from one another, creating an inclusive learning environment.

Current Demand for Skilled Trades in 2019

A large majority, 70%, of construction companies across the country are having trouble finding qualified workers and construction isn’t the only industry suffering. It is estimated that every day for the next decade, 10,000 baby boomers will be reaching retirement age and will be leaving specialized positions in which fewer workers can fill. Luckily for trade schools, their robust skill-focused programs offer a bright future. Careers that will be experiencing more and more demand for skilled labor include:

-     Carpenter

Total new job openings: 83,800

Average salary: $51,120

-     Plumber

Total new job openings: 75,200

Average salary: $58,150

-     Electrician

Total new job openings: 59,600

Average salary: $59,190


Click here to explore possible career paths!

Think the trade-school path is right for you? Click here to learn more!

The JA Guide to Having an Emergency Savings Fund

As the talented Lindsey Vonn once said, "It's amazing. Life changes very quickly, in a very positive way, if you let it." With these changes, it's essential to consider how it will impact your financial stability. The top life changes that cause the most financial strain? Starting a family, divorce, and taking care of a loved one. Yet, there are more frequent changes in life that cause stress such as a car accident, getting ill, or having to move due to a job loss.

A study conducted by the American Psychological Association found that 72% of Americans reported feeling stressed at least once in the past month. Additional stress in one's life is connected to insomnia, severe headaches, increased rate of heart attacks, among other serious side-effects.

What is one to do? Unexpected life changes are not planned, but by thinking ahead with your savings account, you're more likely to come out on the other side in better shape.

What is an Emergency Fund?

An emergency fund, also referred to an emergency account, is a financial safety net for unexpected changes that may occur in the future. Unforeseen factors may include a job loss, debilitating, illness, or major repairs needed to a home or vehicle.

A secondary purpose of creating an emergency fund is to avoid the pitfall of relying on credit cards to cover expenses. Relying on credit cards when you don't have the funds to cover expenses will make it more challenging to make a financial-comeback. This is primarily due to the interest that will be added to your monthly statements.

How Much to Save for an Emergency

At the very least, you should have $1,000 in a mini emergency account. This is referred to as a bank account buffer. This is not for big emergencies in life, but rather a smaller cushion that will help in case you have an overdraft, or if there is a small emergency that requires you to pay immediately. This type of savings should not be relied on as a safety net as it is not meant as a long-term savings solution.

A good rule of thumb is to save three months of living expenses. For example, if your monthly living expenses; including food, transportation, shelter, and clothing is $2,000 a month, you will want to save a total of $6,000. Depending on your age and lifestyle, the amount you want to have in a savings account will vary.

If you have other individuals in your home depending on your income, you will want to save more than just the minimum. It has been suggested that your emergency fund should be six months’ worth of living expenses. In addition, to ensure better financial stability, you may want to double the amount of the emergency funds should your work have a high turnover or injury rate. This will provide more of a cushion should anything happen to the primary earner in the household.

In a perfect world, an emergency account with a full 12 months of living expenses is ideal. While this isn't feasible for many, saving as many months of living expenses as possible will ensure a good security blanket should you or your family fall on hard times.

Where to Keep Your Emergency Savings Cash Fund

A box under the bed is the worst place for your emergency fund. Not only is it completely vulnerable but it is also not accruing any additional value. Discover identifies these "homes" for your emergency savings:

  1. High-yield Bank Accounts: The benefits of keeping your savings in this type of account include being able to access your savings at any time as well as have your savings earn interest on deposits. When looking into this type of account, look for accounts that have a competitive interest rate and no monthly fees or balance requirements.
  1. Money Market Accounts: these accounts are similar in nature to savings accounts as they can offer higher yields. With this type of account, you can deposit your money at a local bank and access your account online or at an ATM. When choosing this type of account, it is important to check to see if there are any fees for withdrawals.
  1. Certificates of Deposit: also called CDs, these accounts will offer a fixed-rate for a specific amount of time. Remember, these accounts will "tie" your money up, meaning you will be unable to access it unless you are willing to be charged a fee.


Looking to get your student thinking ahead? Check out JA Searching for Savings!

Back-To-School Tips for Kids and Parents 2019

Do you remember counting down the weeks left of summer before the early mornings and staying up late with homework? The majority of students dread going back to school because it's hard to switch their minds from 'fun in the sun' to 'back in the classroom'. Whether your student is starting back at a new school or is just moving into a new classroom, these tips are sure to make their (and your) transition back to school less stressful.

Back to a Routine

Routines are important for every student. It's a way to provide structure through their development. Through a routine, students establish healthy life habits that transfer into adulthood. While summer might have thrown all of the '"at-home routines" out the window, you can re-establish them.

Here are the most common routines that are forgotten over summer break:

  1. Early Wake-Up
  2. Homework / Studying
  3. Meal Times
  4. Down-Time
  5. Curfews / Bed Time
  6. Preparing for the Week or Next Day
  7. Balancing School and Extra-curriculars
  8. Chores

The best way to reintroduce these routines to your student is by slowly incorporating them two-weeks before they go back to school. By slowly bringing these habits back, you and your student are less likely to fail.

Setting and Keeping Goals

Despite goals being a major motivator to youth staying on top of their everyday duties and tasks, it's a crucial component in the professional realm as well. Through repeated practice with goals and goal tracking, you're not only assisting your student in holding them accountable for their work and performance at school, you are preparing them for the real-world.

As your student creates their goals, be sure they are making them SMART.

S- Specific Goals

M- Measurable. Be sure to ask "How are you going to tell if your goal has been reached?"

A- Attainable. Ensure the goals your student is making are possible and realistic.

R- Relevant. If your student is creating goals for their performance at school, ensure they aren't including goals that are outside school such as sports, at home goals, etc.

T- Timely. Be sure your student is including deadlines for their goals.

To ensure their goals are met, be sure to have them down in writing. In fact,  people who write and describe their goals are 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully complete them than those who do not.

Another key piece to setting educational goals, is to ensure students have a support system. This includes parents, peers, teachers, and anyone else who makes a daily impact on your student. A support system shouldn’t only be recognized as someone who celebrates a win. They should also be motivating and holding your student accountable for their goals. A lot of the time, a teacher may have a one-on-one with a student to discuss these types of goals when a negative element impacts their performance, but most teachers are willing to have a sit down with a student to understand how they can assist in the child’s educational goals. A great resource for educators to use in assisting these students is a Student Contract.

When it comes down to it, back to school season is just a time to get back to your normalized routine. These tips should be able to help you, and your family, get back to the routine that they know in no time!

Interested in going back to school yourself this fall? JA is looking for classroom volunteers! Learn more here.                                                                                                                                   

Top Soft Skills in the 21st Century Workplace

City & Guilds CEO, Chris Jones, once said, “Unfortunately, some people believe that soft skills aren’t that important. However, almost every employer I’ve ever talked to about this disagrees. In a world where job roles are changing rapidly, soft skills will be one of the few constants…” When you think about all of the new colleagues you have met over the years, the teams you’ve worked on, and the challenges you’ve faced within your business, soft-skills are at the heart of it all.

While some might argue that soft skills hold lesser value to a business, a report from International Association of Admin Professionals, OfficeTeam and HR.com reveals 67% of HR managers reported they would hire a candidate with strong soft skills, even if his or her technical skills were lacking. Why might this be? Employees with strong soft skills have the ability to grow and flourish in any environment due to the fact that they have experience and interpersonal skills that make adapting easier than those who lack such skills.

Soft skills include communications, listening, and emotional perceptivity, such as empathy and sympathy. These skills tend to reside in personal attributes, personality, and character traits, and social cues picked up throughout one’s life. These skills allow people to connect with one another by effectively “reading” those they interact with. These are not skills that are learned in a short period of time, instead, they are acquired, tuned, and even perfected throughout experiences and time. 

Building Soft Skills in the Workplace

Research from the Hay Group identified managers that incorporate a range of “soft talent”, those with soft skills, in their leadership approach have been shown to increase their team performance by about 30%. Through the survey work of LinkedIn profiles of people who are getting hired at the highest rates, it was determined: creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability, and time management were the 5 most in-demand soft skills sought by companies in 2019. How can a company harness these skills in their workplace? The answer is not to find new candidates to fill positions. Training in these areas is available. In fact, research from MIT Sloan determined that soft skills training may improve productivity within an organization. Findings also included that such training returned roughly 250% on investment within eight months post-study.

Finding Candidates with Soft Skills

Hard skills or technical skills are easier to identify when meeting a potential employee. For the most part, the candidate will include their experience and hard skills on their resume, as well as mention them in an interview. Soft skills are not so easy to identify. When you’re looking at a possible candidate for a position, most employers are looking to ensure a person can do the job at hand. They want to have the reassurance that this individual can handle the complexity of the workload and complete crucial projects. But by focusing on only this skillset, also known as “hard skills”, employers are overlooking the underlying skills that determine how a candidate will interact with those around them, be able to connect with their peers, managers, and even clients. Not everyone develops soft skills at the same pace, but experience assists with the development. More experience can equate to building stronger skills at a faster pace compared to those who have not stayed within a position or a company for long.

Interview Questions to Ask

LinkedIn revealed that only 60% of hiring managers agree that screening for soft skills is tough, but crucial as it will determine how new hires will be able to interact with your team. The professional networking platform identified 6 key soft skills and questions to ask to decode how a candidate’s level of soft skills.

1.  Adaptability

Ask the candidate to discuss a time when they were asked to do something they haven’t done before, how they reacted and what they learned.

2.  Culture Fit

Explore what the interviewee is looking for in a job by asking what three things are most important to them in a position or workplace environment.

3.  Collaboration

Have the candidate give examples of when they had to work with someone who was challenging to work with, how they handled working with this particular individual, and what the outcome was.

4.  Leadership

Ask the interviewee to discuss when something significant didn’t go according to plan at work, what was their role in the project or task, and the final result.

5.  Growth Potential

Have the candidate discuss how they handled a crisis or problem when their manager was unavailable and who they consulted with to determine the solution.

6.  Prioritization

Ask the interviewee to tell you about a time when they had to juggle several projects at the same time, how they were able to manage their time and the final result.


To learn more about how students can develop their soft skills to prepare for the workforce, check out JA Career Success®!

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