How one loss led to a fulfilling outcome volunteering with JA and maybe a new career path as well!
Original Story from JA of the Palm Beaches & Treasure Coast volunteer, Brent Ehrlich.
About two months ago, my world changed significantly! After 20 years of continuous employment and career growth, suddenly I found myself with a previously precious resource now in abundance. Time!
I definitely found this break in the “action” great at first. There was lots of time for family, reading and hours (well, days really) of drum and bass guitar playing! However, after a couple of weeks, I quickly discovered something I really enjoyed was missing.
Coaching, mentoring and helping others be successful!
So I made three decisions right away.
1: I would “temporarily pause” focusing on my next career move.
2: I would focus on helping those who need it the most...our future workers and leaders.
3: I would make a difference and have fun doing so!
However, where would I find something that leveraged my experiences in business and my passion to help others? Almost immediately, I remembered a program my youngest son attended when he was in elementary school. The program was JA BizTown – Mobile and he couldn’t stop talking about the fun he had at school running a store and learning about careers.
So with my “research” complete, I went to the JA site and clicked this handy icon.
Shortly thereafter, I was assigned, trained and ready to teach the “JA It’s My Future” program to one period of 6th graders at Lantana Community Middle School. I showed up to school, ready for the first lesson with the following:
1: My super stylish JA bag.
2: Some “reward” money I created to encourage participation
3: Uncertainty about what I was about to do
4: Certainty that I would make a difference!
The first class went great! The students were thrilled to start the program. Possibly the break from history lessons helped too. They listened and seemed to have a good time earning “Mr. Brent” dollars for their participation. Making these dollars redeemable for extra credit points probably didn’t hurt either. Thank you Ms. McHenry for enabling my “fake” currency to have real value!
I survived the first class and was hooked!
Following a great first session, and with an abundance of time on my hands, I asked the teacher if she would like me to teach her other five periods as well. She clearly thought I was crazy, but agreed on the spot as no other volunteers were lined up yet. I quickly reached out to the JA office asking for an emergency drop off of more supplies. After getting past their similar concern for my sanity, we all moved on and my car’s trunk became a little bit heavier in the process!
What did the students learn?
Sure, this is a feel good story. While I am feeling pretty good about this experience, it’s the students that really matter. And this is where the feel good story really becomes a feel great one! Over the six weeks, the students learned about personal branding, career clusters, high-growth careers, career mapping and how to land and keep a job. But what really stood out to me was how much improvement was made with confidence.