Middle school students learn career-readiness skills from CCU Junior Achievement program

Black River Falls Middle School students Carrie Youngthunder, left, and Isaac Knight participate in Junior Achievement activities.

Black River Falls eighth graders recently learned career-readiness skills through guided curriculum designed to hone their interests and map out their future.

The Co-op Credit Union-led Junior Achievement program took place over four weeks and involved six sessions to prompt students to begin thinking about their potential career paths and the steps needed to successfully prepare for, find and maintain jobs.

“Junior Achievement helps the students see their place in the world as a worker, and the awareness of careers to consider as they map out classes, activities and volunteer plans for high school and beyond,” said Rachel Risberg, CCU’s member experience specialist, who helped coordinate the sessions and also serves on the regional Junior Achievement board.

“Youth learn what it takes to get and keep a job, and how this provides an income for them to be successful and own their future,” Risberg said.

The sessions, taught by CCU volunteers, delved into personal brand development, skills, interests, working environment and job outlook in addition to career mapping. Participants took part in career clusters, which provided a range of occupations related to students’ interests and the array of skills and education needed to pursue these occupations.

“It’s just giving them ideas of what is out there for job opportunities and what, if any, additional schooling is involved was beneficial,” said Sarah Anderson, a longtime BRF Middle School teacher. “Looking at different resumes and job applications to identify what was right and wrong about each one is a skill that will benefit all of them.”

Students also learned about job hunting tools and dos and don’ts, soft skills, work ethic and the importance of professionalism.

“The experience for me was a very positive one. The students were very engaged in the discussion and activities,” said Dustin Zillmer, a CCU member contact agent who helped teach the “Career Clusters” section. “I think the JA program as a whole is beneficial because it not only gets the kids thinking about how their current interests may translate into a future career, but also what they can do now to begin to work toward those goals.”

Junior Achievement is the world’s largest organization that inspires and prepares young people to succeed in a global economy. The organization provides in- and after-school programs that focus on entrepreneurship, financial literacy and work readiness.

“JA teaches how business works, how to save and budget and allows students opportunities to explore careers in their own community,” Risberg said. “JA partners with teachers and schools to share lessons, along with our own ‘real-world’ job experiences with students. We help provide the connection between education and the world of work.”

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Jackson County Chronicle editor

Jordan is the editor of the Jackson County Chronicle. He was born-and-raised in Taylor, Wis. and now he and his family live in Alma Center, Wis. Contact him at 715-284-0085.

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