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Our Day at Junior Achievement’s “JA You’re Hired!” Event

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Imagine that you’re about to graduate from high school, but you’ve learned very little about how to land a job, including how to network, compose a resume, dress for an interview and much more. Most of us probably once found ourselves facing this exact scenario.

Lucky for them, some students get the preparation they need by participating in Junior Achievement’s JA You’re Hired! program. And fortunately for us, some of our team members from The Biltmore Bank of Arizona got to help those students develop the work-readiness skills required to transition from school into the work world.

The You’re Hired! program includes a rigorous, 10-session classroom curriculum led over several weeks by Junior Achievement volunteers, and it culminates in a half-day JA You’re Hired Challenge. This year’s Challenge, where our staff members Jeremy King, Desirae Outcalt, Darlene Esquerra, Todd Leveen, Bryan Ellisor and Nathaniel Spatz helped out, included more than 500 students from Phoenix-area high schools, all of whom had completed at least five of the ten preparatory classes.

The day began with a few schools participating in an interview workshop sponsored by The Biltmore Bank of Arizona. We asked the students questions similar to what someone interviewing for a teller or personal banker position with our bank would be asked. Career coaches guided the students through interview skills, like showing up early, making eye contact, shaking hands, researching the company in advance and more. Students who participated in this workshop had a definite advantage during the interview challenge later in the day.

Once all 500-plus students had arrived and convened in the large ballroom, they were tasked with a networking challenge. “A lot of the kids were quiet and shy coming off the buses, but they were running all over the room to meet people by the end of this challenge,” said Jeremy.

The students had one hour to meet as many of the 200 businesspeople volunteers as possible. Each had a bingo card with squares to fill in once they had met someone who met the criteria on the square – anything from someone who owns their own business to someone who speaks another language. The students were required to conduct themselves in a business-like fashion, so they had to introduce themselves and initiate conversation to find out the answers for their bingo cards.

Jeremy, who was volunteering for his second year at JA You’re Hired!, this time as an organizer as well as volunteer, was impressed by the number of kids who were already planning the trajectory of their future careers. “We even told a few of the kids that they were welcome to call us to interview for a job in the future,” he said.

After the networking challenge, where Desirae, Todd, Bryan, Nathaniel, Darlene and Jeremy all volunteered, the students participated in a creative marketing challenge, where they had to construct a product from loose materials in a box and develop an ad campaign; a STEM challenge, where they were tasked with figuring out math problems and puzzles; an interview challenge to test and hone their skills; and a thinking-on-your-feet challenge with real-life dilemmas to solve. The final challenge, called dress for success, caught the students off guard when they learned that select spies had been assessing their business attire at the networking event with the goal of presenting awards to the best-dressed school as well as best dressed boy and girl.

It was a tremendous day for these students, who learned very practical career skills, and for the volunteers who had a chance to give so many Phoenix-area kids a leg up in the business world.

We’d like to extend a special thank you to Todd, who serves on the Junior Achievement of Arizona board of directors and to Jeremy for working more than half a year on the JA You’re Hired! planning committee.

While we may not always think of ourselves as role models, it’s clear that you instantly become one when you volunteer at a Junior Achievement event. The business skills we come to take for granted can make all the difference in the world when you teach them to a young person. To find out more about how you can volunteer with Junior Achievement, visit their website here.screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am

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Todd Leveen Appointed to Junior Achievement of Arizona Board

todd-leveenWe’re proud to share that Todd Leveen, senior vice president at The Biltmore Bank of Arizona, was recently appointed to the Junior Achievement of Arizonascreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am central district board of directors.

After volunteering for Junior Achievement’s signature JA BizTown program in the late 1980s, Todd has continued his involvement with the organization ever since. He has also helped develop financial literacy programs directly for some Arizona schools, leveraging his master’s degree in curriculum instruction and design.

“I have always thought that our educational system has short changed some students, because the curriculum isn’t thorough enough to prepare them for what happens when they hit the real world,” says Todd. “Schools just don’t have the time or budget to teach about how to take out a loan, pay a mortgage or remit bills. As I’ve worked with Junior Achievement, I’ve seen that they address those financial literacy issues and real world scenarios.”

As part of his duties on the Junior Achievement board, Todd serves on the JA Stock Market Challengescreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am committee, which organizes an interschool mock stock trading competition. He also helps with fundraising, board member and sponsor recruitment, and promoting Junior Achievement in the Phoenix community.

The JA Stock Market Challenge is especially enjoyable, says Todd, because not only do the student school teams get to execute mock trades for a $500,000 investment portfolio during the day, the adult volunteers, sponsors and local business leaders get to simulate the same challenge later that evening.

Biltmore Bank staffers Jeremy King, Nathaniel Spatz, Paul Brodt, Bryan Ellisore and Desirae Outcalt also volunteer with Junior Achievement of Arizona events, and Jeremy  also serves on Junior Achievement’s JA You’re Hiredscreen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am committee.

“Our entire organization, from the top down, has been extremely supportive of Junior Achievement of Arizona and of those of us taking time to help with and promote financial literacy programs for area youth,” says Todd.

Todd credits Darlene Esquerra, senior vice president and Community Development Officer, at our parent bank, Grandpoint Bank, for helping to support his work with Junior Achievement. Darlene coordinates many of the community outreach activities of Grandpoint Bank and its divisions.

“She’s been invaluable in helping to guide me, and she encouraged me to join the Junior Achievement board,” says Todd. “I couldn’t be happier with how responsive our organization is, especially our Biltmore Bank president, Rich Endicott, when one of our bank’s employees wants to contribute our support to the community. We’re all very driven to help people.”

Junior Achievement of Arizona has been educating K-12 students about financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship since 1957. Last year, Junior Achievement of Arizona served over 90,000 students in its programs. For upcoming events and more information about Junior Achievement of Arizona, visit www.jaaz.org.screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-07-51-am

“Human capital is very important to Junior Achievement,” says Todd. “They train you from the ground up, and the value you add to the students’ education is immeasurable. I would encourage anyone who is interested in volunteering, either directly or through your company, to contact Junior Achievement of Arizona.”

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The Future is Bright – The Biltmore Bank of Arizona Team Mentors at Junior Achievement

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Approximately 400 Phoenix- and Tucson-area teens may have a leg up on their peers when it comes to job performance. That’s because a group of Biltmore bankers teamed up with Junior Achievement of Arizona↗ and other professionals from around town to put the students through their paces in real-world job skills and on-the-job problem solving.

Entitled You’re Hired!, the event, produced by Junior Achievement and held at the Phoenix Convention Center, gives students the chance to build professional networking, problem solving, team work and oratory skills that they can leverage in their future careers. With rounds of team and individual competition, the students take on a variety of challenges and receive feedback and advice from the business professional volunteers.

After receiving a briefing and some training from Junior Achievement staff, the adult volunteers take the students through their paces in three rounds of game playing.

  1. Networking Challenge – The students have the onus of approaching and engaging the volunteers in conversation to gather information about the volunteer. The volunteer then rates the student and provides feedback about what the student did well and where they can improve.
  2. Power Team Challenge – A volunteer oversees and times student teams while they assemble a project consisting of circuit boards and components.
  3. Thinking on Your Feet Challenge – Using a four-round bracket elimination system, the volunteers judge students as they solve workplace dilemmas posed to them on a card selected at random. The game challenges the students’ communication skills, critical thinking and ethics. The final three students move to the stage, where they each address one of the most difficult scenarios of the game, and one is declared the winner.

Junior Achievement of Arizona has been educating K-12 students about entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy since 1957. With offices in Tempe and Tucson, Junior Achievement of Arizona will engage over 90,000 students through its programs this year.

Seven team members from our bank (Bryan Ellisor, Todd Leveen, Paul Brodt, Nathaniel Spatz, Jeremy King, Desirae Outcalt and Darlene Esquerra) participated in the You’re Hired! event. Todd, Nathaniel and Desirae were quick to volunteer for a subsequent Junior Achievement session, held several weeks later.

“We all really enjoyed participating,” said Darlene, who coordinated the bank’s outreach with Junior Achievement. “You see some of the students shaking when they have to network with people they don’t know, because they’re not used to it. It’s great to be able to give them positive feedback and help them develop real-life skills.”

The sophomores, juniors and seniors, mostly from schools with high concentrations of low- to moderate-income communities, who participated in the event left with new skills and new ways of thinking about what they would do in the real-life work scenarios posed to them at You’re Hired!

“I know they’re going to remember this experience, and they’re going to put what they learned to work,” said Darlene.

For more information about how you can volunteer with Junior Achievement of Arizona, visit their website.↗

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↗ Linking to Non-Biltmore Bank Websites

This icon appears next to every link that directs to a third party website not affiliated with Biltmore Bank. Please be advised that if you click this link you will be taken to a website hosted by another party, where you will no longer be subject to, or under the protection of, the privacy and security policies of Biltmore Bank. We recommend that you review and evaluate the privacy and security policies of the site that you are entering. Biltmore Bank assumes no liability for the content, information, security, policies or transactions provided by these other sites.

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