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My four years as a company program student open the doors to a wealth of opportunities. Throughout my time with the program I had fabulous mentors like Karen Chafe, Omar Hamid & Robert Atkinson among many others. During the program I also was able to chat frequently with Lesley Quesnelle and Bev Robinson who were always more than willing to share their wealth of knowledge with students like myself. My favourite memories include end of term trips to InfoTech which certainly upped the ante of final board meetings and always included a tour of the inspiring facility. Experiences like this helped me to shape what I looked for in a future career and how I wanted to show up and perform each day. My favourite product made during my time in company program was with the company ‘Centsibility’ during my final year in the program. Our company focused on a simple product, the ‘Save, Spend, Share Jars’ coupled with a financial literacy program. The term felt like a great finale to a wonderful four years.In my final two years of company program I also spent time volunteering and then later working with Camp Business Basics and Camp CEO. The six weeks of camp each summer were always so inspiring to see kids brainstorm, produce, and then sell their products each week on an ultra accelerated timeline. Regardless of monetary success everyone walked away each week having learned something which was phenomenal to see.I have also been lucky since moving to Ottawa to volunteer on and off with Company Program. Albert Wong, director of JA Ottawa leads a phenomenal team delivering JA programming across the city. I have volunteered with JA Ottawa both in person and also as a virtual mentor during the pandemic. Working with students via the program never ceases to amaze and inspire me as each year students come back with bigger, better and more brilliant ideas than ever before.
My favourite pieces of advice to give to high school students are a) to take their time and b) to try a little bit of everything. We truly live in a world of specialization and this can be somewhat to our detriment. While it is different from my direct experience, from my time working as a student advisor during university I’ve learned that taking an extra year or two to take time between high school and university/college/trades school can make a world of difference and save someone thousands of dollars. Highschool goes by in the blink of an eye and what you think you want at 17 or 18 will most likely be different than what you want at 22 or 27. My second piece of advice to try a little bit of everything is something to hone in on while in high school, try as many clubs as possible, say yes to different experiences, and seek out programs like JA. What this will do is give you the chance to explore what you like and who you are outside of the classroom which in turn will help you to shape what you might like to do in the future. Everyone always thought I’d be a lawyer, even myself. I had always done horseback riding so when I got to university, naturally, I joined the school’s team. As part of being on the team, we had to host one competition annually. Over the course of doing so for four years, I fell in love with competition organizing. Coming out of my undergrad there was an opportunity to be an event assistant at Wesley Clover Parks. I continued that work through my masters and now today after a brief time away writing grants and funding for a major defense company, I am back at Wesley Clover Parks doing something I love every day. Had I not participated in extracurriculars I would’ve never discovered a way to pursue my passion as a career.uable, providing better preparation for life and future careers, regardless of the chosen industry.
My experience with JA started with the summer camp back when it was still called Business Basics. I attended the camp for two years. Later, in high school, I participated in the Company Program.I was the VP of Marketing for the Roseate Collection 2021-2022 Company Program, driving change in the mental health community through a love of reading by selling bookmarks featuring positive affirmations and building an online community of readers.I was also the President of the Spark Change Club 2022-2023 Company Program, facilitating community partnerships to raise money and awareness surrounding the devastating February 2022 earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria.In 2022, I was recognized as VP of Marketing of the Year in the JASWO charter. In 2023, I was honoured with the Brayl Copp Business Leader Award. In both years I received the Company Leadership Award and represented my company at the Dragons’ Lair Trade Show and Pitch Competition.After graduating from the Company Program, I returned to JA as a Summer Camp Counsellor to share my love for entrepreneurship and to inspire campers.JA continues to be a fantastic way to connect with like-minded individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit and a drive for social change. I made some of my closest friends and professional connections through the JA community, and the mentorship of fellow members of the JA network has helped me launch my future career in marketing.
My advice for high school students is to participate in activities related to their future career aspirations. It’s an excellent opportunity to explore their interests and gain experience that will be beneficial in the future.
We lived in a Steel town, and our product was pen set made out of a railway tie made from scrap metal from Sydney Steel. We got the product for free. We had to file it down to a smooth product and drill holes for pens, and then sent the product to be dipped in chrome. Once returned we attached the pens and sold it for $16.95. A student’s dad’s company did the chrome for us, but we ended up getting a large amount of pre-orders, and they got overwhelmed with the amount they were doing for us, so they increased the cost. Our issue was now we didn’t feel we could increase our prices on the pre-orders. At the end of the day, we broke even, but didn’t make any money and we didn’t manage to fulfill all of the orders. We won best product of the year nationally and I won Comptroller of the year and The Schulich Award for Entrepreneurship scholarship of $1500.
Money is the one subject that doesn’t seem to get taught to students, whether it’s through parents or the school system. I would encourage high school students to learn basic money management concepts. Learn about how to use credit cards properly, what a credit score is and why it’s important, budgeting, and what to do today to reach long term goals such as buying a home and retirement. The internet has amazing content and courses, and parents are a good resource to have money conversations.I feel that money is still considered a taboo topic and my company’s mission is to normalize money conversations. Learn how money works, learn how to save before spending, paying yourself first, and how compound interest works. I believe parents can start teaching simple strategies as early as 5 years old with allowances to teach these topics and more. Money is a tool and should be used to teach kids and young adults today for preparing for the future.I would let kids know that it’s important to understand that we have an relationship with money and the better our relationship with money is, the more money we will have. I would tell students that making money isn’t the goal. The goal is the freedom and opportunities that money offers, and making money and managing it properly is vital to having the life you want in the future.I wish I really understood how compound interest and investing worked when I was younger and took advantage of being young and investing early. Even though I met with Financial advisors in my 20s they weren’t explaining it in terms that I understood and I felt embarrassed that I didn’t understand what they were telling me. When I saw my investment lose money, I took it out. lol.So today, I make sure I teach young people about why money is a critical tool to learn how to use and how it impacts every aspect of your life and something you need everyday for the rest of your life.
As the controller of my JA Company, I learned about bookkeeping. I have always enjoyed working with numbers and today educating others on how to manage their own money can be directly related to my experience with JA, especially when I work with entrepreneurs.
JA really helped me to come out of my shell and sparked my entreneurship journey! I remember making chalkboards one year, wine bottle holder another and metal bookmarks and necklaces another year. I remember going to Montreal for CANJAC where I got to meet other JA students from around the world.
Check out programs like JA as early as you can as it’s going to benefit you in more ways than one.
I participated in two years of the Company Program. The first year I was super shy but by the second year I took on the role of president for my company. Both years my company sold the same product; A Night at the Movies at Home. This included a large popcorn bowl with two cans of pop, two bags of microwaveable popcorn, two chocolate bars and a coupon for pizza. It was $10 and probably weighed 10 pounds as we walked door-to-door and neighbourhood to neighbourhood. 😉
Try out as many different things in your life as possible. Maybe that’s a business idea, maybe that’s exploring a topic you know nothing about or engaging with a group of people you don’t think you have anything in common with.If you think that you have a talent or an idea, and imagining yourself living in a way where you get to act that talent or idea out makes you excited and nervous at the same time, you owe it to yourself to move one step closer in the direction of that calling to see what happens.Also, you can reinvent your life as many times as you want!
I have never stopped being an entrepreneur since my days at Junior Achievement. From a vegan cupcake business in University to a Coworking Community Space out of an old farmhouse, I continue to explore and create businesses that reflect my passions and human needs.
Junior Achievement taught me that you can get started with just a piece of paper and an idea. You don’t need an elaborate business plan. You don’t need a team. You just need to believe in a vision and take that first action towards making it real.
The one year the first product we made was gold spray-painted Christmas wreaths made of old computer punch cards. The second one I can remember was coasters made of plastic that was shaped in a mold. In my second year I was vice president, likely of production, as we had no HR in those days. I remember the banquets at the Ivanhoe Curling Club and other small parties we held on site. I actually met a boy there from another high school (Beal) that I started to date (for over a year), which was just before I met my husband. I attended Beck Secondary School during the time I was a member.
Get as much varied experiences as you can while you’re young!
Zoe’s JA journey began with the JA summer camp at the age of 11. They attended the camp for three consecutive summers, crafting various items and forming cherished memories. Over the years, they transitioned from camper to volunteer and then to camp counsellor, spending five summers in roles that helped shape the experiences of other young participants. In addition to their camp involvement, Zoe participated in the JA Company Program twice during high school, where their teams created products like infinity scarves and bath bombs. Their commitment to JA extended to mentoring a JA Ottawa team during their time at the university, and they have continued to be involved with JA in various capacities.
Zoe encourages high school students not to fear failure. They emphasize that taking risks and attempting challenging tasks can lead to valuable learning experiences, regardless of the outcome. Zoe’s journey with JA, which took them out of their comfort zone and provided opportunities to build confidence and explore new possibilities, serves as a testament to the personal growth that can come from embracing challenges.
Maysee’s introduction to JA occurred during a high school business class presentation, sparking her interest in the Company Program. In her first year as the VP of Marketing, Maysee’s team developed the Catch Board, a practical and aesthetically pleasing product made from repurposed pallets. The success of this venture, winning Best Product and being a JA Dragon’s Lair Finalist, set the stage for Maysee’s impactful JA journey. In her second year, the team created Arbor’s Art, overcoming challenges and earning Maysee the Top 20 Under 40 Junior Achiever award.
Maysee encourages students to seize opportunities and take advantage of what comes their way. Drawing from her own experiences, including hosting a show on Rogers TV, creating a short film with a professional production company, and helping build two companies through JA, she emphasizes the importance of going for opportunities, even if they seem daunting. Maysee’s advice underscores the potential for personal growth and unique experiences that come from embracing opportunities.
Theresa’s JA journey was marked by three diverse product ventures, each contributing to her personal and professional growth. The success of Strength in Strings, winning Company of the Year locally and representing at the national level, stands out as a highlight. The experience of meeting people from around the world at the Success Summit in Calgary left an indelible mark on Theresa.
Theresa’s advice to high school students centers on pushing oneself beyond perceived limits. She emphasizes that confidence is built, not born, and encourages students to explore their full potential by stepping out of their comfort zones. Theresa’s own experience with JA and beyond serves as a testament to the transformative power of pushing one’s boundaries.
Brittany’s JA experience was marked by three unique years, each contributing to her personal and professional growth. The first year involved creating customizable greeting cards and teaching Brittany about leadership, inventory management, and quality control. This experience pushed her out of her comfort zone, building confidence and resilience. The second year as the President of Jac and the Bean Bag allowed her to deepen her understanding of leadership and team management. The third year, selling copper bookmarks and handmade paper, showcased her versatility as she took on the roles of VP of HR and VP of Accounting, fostering her interest in HR.
Brittany’s advice to high school students emphasizes the importance of hands-on experience alongside academic learning. She highlights that practical, real-world experience in trying things out is invaluable, providing better preparation for life and future careers, regardless of the chosen industry.
Casey’s memories of JA include a small but competitive group, emphasizing teamwork, competitiveness, and camaraderie. The rural setting of Strathroy created a unique bonding experience for the team. The reheatable wheat bag not only demonstrated their entrepreneurial spirit but also provided a practical and popular product. Casey highlights the fun and teamwork as the most enjoyable aspects of her JA experience.
Casey’s advice to high school students centers on being open to change and taking chances. She encourages students to recognize that it’s okay to change their paths and forge new ones, emphasizing the flexibility to evolve and adapt. Casey’s own experiences of changing directions in life serve as a testament to the value of being open-minded and willing to take risks.
Enthusiastically joining JA during a presentation in her grade 11 accounting class, Dana’s three-year experience in the Company Program was transformative. She not only gained valuable business skills but also developed leadership, communication, and technical abilities. The products her JA team created – a book holder, cotton roll-up organizer, and a memo cork board – reflect the practical, hands-on nature of the program. Dana’s retention of the memo board highlights the lasting impact of her JA journey.
Dana’s advice to current high school students centers on financial literacy. She emphasizes the importance of taking the initiative to learn about finances from various sources, including parents, friends, and business professionals. This advice reflects the practical knowledge Dana gained through JA and suggests a proactive approach to personal and financial education.
Keith’s JA journey involved the manufacturing of four products: a spaghetti measurer, a panda bear shelf, a telephone book cover, and a back scratcher. His active participation in JA extended to attending two EPJACS and one CANJAC. Notably, he achieved recognition in the JA Celanese 1986 public speaking and essay contest for Ontario, securing the 2nd position. Keith’s connection with JA continued over the years, seeking advice from the late Paul Almond, which significantly influenced his career choices. Winning the JA Bursary in 1986 and several other awards underscored the impact JA had on Keith’s early career.
Keith’s advice to high school students emphasizes passion, skill diversification, and gratitude for each day. Encouraging students to be passionate and skilled in multiple disciplines aligns with their own journey in JA and beyond. This advice reflects a holistic approach to personal and professional development.
Laura’s participation in the JA Company Program between 1998-2002 in Strathroy left a lasting impact on her. She gained practical exposure to marketing, human resources, and business development, laying the groundwork for her future career. The lessons of maximizing resources, valuing individuals, and adapting plans to real-world conditions have stayed with her. Her company’s success and acknowledgment, potentially winning Company of the Year, showcase the practical application of JA principles.
The highlight of Laura’s JA journey was her attendance at the Canadian National Junior Achievement Conference in Calgary in 2001. This experience, combined with her commitment to the program, likely played a crucial role in shaping her perspectives on business and leadership.
Laura’s advice to high school students is valuable and echoes the essence of JA’s mission. She emphasizes the importance of involvement, curiosity, and seizing opportunities. Her own experiences demonstrate that saying yes to chances, being genuinely curious, and learning from both successes and failures can lead to unexpected and rewarding paths.
Over four years at JA, Ryanna was deeply involved in various aspects of the program, including holding senior positions in the JA companies she formed, such as VP of Marketing and President. Her journey was marked by unique challenges and successes, with her third year being conducted entirely virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the challenges, she adapted to the new circumstances, emphasizing leadership with compassion and a focus on her team’s well-being. In her final year, she shifted her focus from numbers to people. She achieved remarkable success in terms of competition results and team relationships. Throughout her JA experience, she learned essential skills like innovation, communication, and motivation, with a strong belief in the importance of caring for one’s team.
Ryanna’s advice to students based on her JA experience centers on the idea that true leadership is about genuinely caring for and wanting the best for one’s team. She stressed the value of people as a company’s greatest asset. Her approach, which emphasized building strong relationships and prioritizing her team’s well-being, proved more valuable than sales or competition success.
Sheila’s Junior Achievement experience did not involve a specific program. Still, she learned a lot about business, gained confidence, and found the motivation to pave her own path. Although she didn’t become an entrepreneur, she attributes her success to the knowledge and skills she acquired during her JA participation.
Sheila’s advice to high school students is to embrace mistakes as valuable learning experiences. She encourages students to step out of their comfort zones, emphasizing that the more uncomfortable it feels, the more they learn about themselves. Sheila also advises students not to be afraid of taking risks, as the pace of their success often depends on their willingness to accept risks.
Brad’s initial connection with JA dates back to 1972-1976 when he was a student in the Company Program in Brantford, Ontario. His JA experience ignited his entrepreneurial spirit, leading him to establish multiple businesses in technology, systems integration, publishing, and insurance despite not having a formal post-secondary education.
Aspiring high school entrepreneurs should study finance and law as a foundational base for business success and to develop a voracious reading habit, which has proven to be invaluable for him achieving success.