As Generation Z prepares to follow their millennial counterparts into the workforce, they are faced with an ever-changing landscape of career options and advice. Where new doors are opening – others are closing – and all the while, the cost of post-secondary education continues to rise.
Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania is a non-profit organization aimed at inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy.
“Junior Achievement is driven by our belief that education shouldn’t start or stop with the four walls of our neighborhood schools,” says Erin Burry, marketing and events specialist for Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania. “It should be built on a bridge of engagement between classroom and community. It must incorporate additional elements and partners to give students the opportunity to develop 21st-century skills in preparation for an unknown job market and rapidly evolving economy.”
That job market includes the ever-growing energy sector, which presents a myriad of career opportunities for students in Western Pennsylvania. Range Resources is a long-time supporter of Junior Achievement and a founding partner of the organization’s Careers in Energy Program: an initiative that focuses on teaching middle school-aged children about energy development and consumption, the economy and careers in the industry.
“The curriculum supports Junior Achievement’s three pillars of financial literacy, workforce readiness and entrepreneurship, while introducing concepts in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” says Burry.
Participating students are exposed to mentors and role models from their communities, all of whom are there to show students that it’s possible to dream big and achieve their dreams if they’re willing to work hard. In this way, the program helps encourage secondary education for students who may not consider it a possibility.
“To engage those students at risk of dropping out or disconnecting between high school and the future, we must show them a clear vision of what’s possible through a variety of professions and skills that are in demand and will help them succeed,” says Burry.
Junior Achievement mentor and volunteer Verle Haines is a senior Landman at Range Resources. Haines says the work he does through JA’s Careers in Energy program is extremely rewarding. “Junior Achievement is a great program for students to learn about career opportunities in the energy industry that are close to home.”
Haines is one of several Range employees in departments ranging from Land to Engineering who have volunteered for Junior Achievement.
“Range and Junior Achievement share the same philosophy: the best way to prepare students for the real world is to expose them to real world careers,” says Range’s Christina Colallilo, who helps to coordinate volunteers for the program. “Range employees are always eager to mentor students and to educate them on the natural gas industry.”
Junior Achievement was founded in 1919; and is described on its website as “the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs.” The stated goal of their programs is to “help prepare young people for the real world by showing them how to generate wealth and effectively manage it, how to create jobs which make their communities more robust, and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to the workplace.”
Those interested in contributing to Junior Achievement — whether through corporate, financial support or volunteer service — can find more information on the program and these opportunities at www.jawesternpa.org.