Junior Achievement of San Diego


Preparing Youth For Life After Graduation

Experiential learning prepares students for life after graduation by encouraging them to develop their unique skillsets and empowering them to achieve future success. Learning experiences that connect students to career pathways allows them to explore career interests and understand how to accomplish their professional goals.

Junior Achievement of San Diego (JA San Diego) is a local nonprofit that provides immersive learning opportunities for students to explore career interests, personal finance topics and the world of business.

“I learned that not everything is for you, but eventually you will find something that is for you,” said student Mahamed Ali. “It was very interesting to know how life can steer you into any other path. You never know where you might end up.”

Ali is a Lincoln High junior enrolled in JA Fellows. The program focuses on career exploration and gaining relevant work experience through paid internships. By facilitating career panels and on-site job shadows, students are exposed to career pathways in their local economy and hear about people’s unique career journeys. Students are additionally paired with mentors who share personalized guidance and insights on business and careers. “In the professional world, I used to get intimidated or feel like I would mess up. But after JA Fellows, I feel more confident,” said Lincoln High junior Diana Zuniga. Two students from the Lincoln High cohort were able to secure permanent employment with their internship site hosts after completing their internships last fall. Their success demonstrates the impact of providing youth work readiness programs.

These experiences offer the opportunity for students to begin building their networks. Students apply the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to relevant applications that build their confidence in their ability to succeed. They learn how to conduct themselves in a professional manner and make connections with business professionals.

JA programs additionally equip students with financial literacy knowledge to manage their personal finances and realize what it takes to reach certain financial goals through simulation-based programs such as JA Stock Market Challenge and Mission Fed JA Finance Park.

“JA Finance Park taught me how to keep a budget. Even though I got the income and I felt rich, I realized I have to pay this, and that, and then I have to pay this. You do not realize how much all this costs,” said Zuniga. “It is an eye-opener to be more careful with life decisions.”

The program teaches students to distinguish their “wants” from their “needs” through a budgeting simulation where they must manage a month’s worth of expenses. They learn what steps need to be taken to achieve their career and professional goals as well as the financial realities of higher education, home ownership, childcare and overall cost of living.

By providing immersive, hands-on learning experiences that go beyond the classroom, JA San Diego is preparing local students for the challenges and opportunities of the real world. Students are motivated for their future careers and inspired to achieve success in all areas of their lives.



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Esteban Villanueva