My JA Experience as an Alumnus, Volunteer and Board Member
My first introduction
I was a high school student in Centerville, Ohio when I first heard of Junior Achievement. That's when my class participated in JA Company Program. With JA's guidance, we created our first company and designed and sold tie-dyed t-shirts. For the first time, I had the opportunity to compete with other local high school students via interviews for “Best CEO,” “Best CFO,” etc.
Little did I know at the time that this experience would prepare me for my internship interviews in college. By that time, I felt much more confident than other college students that had never interviewed before.
Joining the volunteer troops
Once I completed my bachelor's in finance and accounting at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, I moved to San Diego.
One day, when working at the Deloitte in San Diego, I received an email encouraging employees to volunteer for Junior Achievement in the classroom. I remember thinking to myself, “I remember JA! Of course, I’ll volunteer for them!”
I signed up to volunteer to teach JA Economics for Success at the Pacific Beach Middle School. I always thought teaching would be rewarding--and my first teaching experience as a JA volunteer confirmed it!
From that point on, JA couldn't get rid of me! I signed up to volunteer in the classroom every year going forward. As a matter of fact, I ended up enjoying teaching so much that I eventually became an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego.
"On board" with JA board
Over the years, my experience with JA continued to get more and more involved.
I eventually started assisting with the JA fundraising efforts by coordinating the annual JA Bowl-A-Thon event at Deloitte. After 5 good years with the firm, I decided to pursue another professional opportunity and joined the Sempra Energy/SDG&E team.
I recall thinking to myself when I initially took the job, “Oh man, now that I’m a new employee at Sempra Energy/SDG&E, I can’t just start sending emails to people about the JA Bowl-A-Thon.” I needed to develop my network in the organization before doing so.
A few years later, the opportunity to coordinate the inaugural Sempra Energy/SDG&E JA Bowl-A-Thon fell in my lap. I suddenly received a request to attend a meeting to help facilitate the Bowl-A-Thon for our company. I thought to myself, “Wow, I’ve been waiting for the right time to make this happen and here it is!” Life really does work in mysterious ways.
The inaugural Sempra Energy/SDG&E JA Bowl-A-Thon was a success!
I continued to coordinate the event for the next few years. Then, I was asked to represent Sempra Energy/SDG&E on the Junior Achievement board of directors. I was both ecstatic and humbled for the opportunity as I have been involved with JA for so long.
JA has prepared me for success and provided me with my first interview, teaching experience and board of directors role. I am so appreciative for everything I learned thanks to this wonderful organization.
To many more years, JA!
Written by Ahmed Abbas
Principal Business Analyst at Sempra Energy
JA Board Member, Volunteer & Alumni