My daughter is applying to be the CEO of Delta Airlines. She has to create a resume and prepare for an interview for the position. Did I mention that she’s only 12 years old?
This is all part of the experience of spending a day in Junior Achievement’s BizTown. JA is business curriculum taught by volunteer community professionals who give of their time to come into classrooms. The purpose of JA is prepare young people for success in the global economy.
At New Ulm Middle School the students have been working for weeks on getting ready to head to BizTown in St. Paul, Minn. Preparation includes applying and interviewing for jobs, understanding their role in business there, what they need to accomplish, along with the skills and tools that are needed to accomplish those goals.
BizTown is a 12,000 square foot simulated town — complete with a town square, government offices, a post office, etc. — everything that a bustling town needs. There are 18 businesses in BizTown with an emphasis on Minnesota companies like Cargill, Cambria and Polaris; though the most popular is the town café where students can purchase snacks with the “money” they received from working their BizTown job.
Students have the opportunity to be a part of running the business, taking care of personal finances (like using a debit card and banking online), stimulating the economy by purchasing goods and services from businesses and choosing health insurance.
I helped out at BizTown two years ago and I was in awe of the vast array of opportunities the students have to get a sense for what it’s like to be a part of a business and a thriving member of society.
I wish we had BizTown and the JA program when I was young. It’s a chance to really get a glimpse into adulthood — the good, bad and the confusing parts like choosing the right health insurance plan option.
When I was my daughter’s age, I distinctly remember that I decided being a grown up meant no one can tell me “no” to all those delicious looking candy bars prominently displayed near the grocery store checkout line. While my ever-slowing metabolism hasn’t allowed me to indulge in all those candy bars as an adult, I chuckle thinking back on my perception of what being a grownup meant.
Giving our youth a firm grasp on the skills needed as adults gives them a jump start to being successful grownups. Students from all over the state of Minnesota have had the opportunity to go to BizTown and take part in this enrichment activity. Once the students get to BizTown, they have a town hall meeting where the student mayor makes a few statements and then the students are off and running. They work on their business the whole time they are there — except for a few breaks where they can go to the bank to deposit their paycheck, patronize other businesses and grab a snack at the café.
I helped with the newspaper last time I was at BizTown and the kids were awesome. They each had a specific task and worked hard to accomplish what was expected of them. My role there was to assist the students in any questions they had or issues that may have arisen. As volunteers, we were not to do the work for them and I don’t think the kids would’ve wanted that to happen. They wanted to complete the tasks on their own and worked diligently to get that done.
I only wish that BizTown would have an agricultural component. Having the chance to be a farm producer would be a great BizTown career option for city and rural kids alike — allowing students the chance to learn how to purchase inputs and market their crop. This would give them a little taste of the complexities of running a farming operation. I’ll definitely be asking about the possibility of adding this when I head to BizTown.
As my daughter prepares her resume and works on her interviewing techniques, she’s gaining real life skills that will not only serve her now, but also later in life.
I sure hope she gets the Delta CEO position. There’s got to be some free flying perks for her dear old mom, right?
For more information on Junior Achievement and BizTown, visit https://www.jaum.org/programs/.