August 21, 2017

Inspiring Young People to Succeed

For the last five years, Dan Ford, Distributor Wire & Cable (DWC) Account Manager, has volunteered for Junior Achievement’s Business Week. For him, this is more than just an opportunity to Give Back, A Lot. It is a way to invest in our future by helping kids see their full potential.

Junior Achievement was founded in 1919 as an after-school program for middle school students. Since then, it has evolved to include in-school classes and activities for students of all ages. This organization has a very specific purpose: To inspire and prepare young people to succeed in a global economy.

As a volunteer for Junior Achievement’s Business Week in Denver, Dan was able to connect with kids and teach them valuable lessons. He taught a workshop about business ethics where he asked participants to think about choices they would make in difficult situations.  At first, the kids were shy to participate, but it didn’t take too long before they were having real discussions regarding different ethical business questions.

Dan also taught a workshop about networking.  He stressed the importance of always putting your best foot forward and making sure that you are representing your personal brand through your actions. Dan asked the kids to think about what building a network could mean for them.  

“One of the most important aspects of your professional career is the ability to network with a variety of individuals. Having a diverse set of people in multiple industries increases efficacy in whatever field you may find yourself in,” said Dan.

Teaching the workshops was rewarding for Dan, but he is most proud of the work he did with a group of kids as a consultant. The group was competing to build an innovative new product for OtterBox, a large sponsor of the event.  They developed an idea to attach a picture printer to an OtterBox phone case. Their design would print mini pictures straight from a user’s phone. The group was even able to use a 3D printer to create a prototype. Unfortunately, Dan’s group didn’t win the competition. That honor was given to the inventors of a solar powered phone case that could recharge a phone battery.

Although Dan's group didn't win, he was still impressed by the work they put into the project and some unusual passions they developed.

“I was blown away by the fact these high schoolers understood and were proficient with modeling software for 3-D printers,” said Dan. “Even more shocking, there are 15-18 year old kids competing in DECA accounting competitions… and that there is enough participants to hold high school ACCOUNTING competitions.”

Dan specifically noticed the kids in the accounting competitions because he worked as a CPA before he began working with DWC.

Junior Achievement allows kids to get a hands on education in business. They learn about everything from finance to management. They have opportunities to put the things they’ve learned in the classroom to use and explore the world of business with volunteers who are as passionate about it as they are. This is the reason Dan has volunteered for the last five years and will do it again next year.

Currently, there are over 235,000 volunteers from all over the U.S. who donate their time with Junior Achievement. If you are looking for an opportunity to join them, get more details by visiting juniorachievement.org.

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