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True Achievement MAG
During high school, I remember reading about Junior Achievement’s Titan teams and thinking, Wow, I could never do that. Economics seemed too complex for me, but our curriculum requires us to take it. So begins my journey. Now, I can look back and say, “Wow, I did do that.”
Junior Achievement programs help kids around the world prepare for a successful future. Each program is managed by a community volunteer who helps students connect what they are learning in school with their future in the workforce. Hands-on activities bring the real world to the classroom. The program my class got involved in was JA Titan, an online simulation that lets kids run their own virtual business. Stressing the importance of creativity, entrepreneurship, and sound business decisions, it gave the class the chance to gain knowledge and skills while playing a video game!
We gave ourselves a fearsome corporate moniker, GloboCorp, and described our logo as the seeing eye of business, always watchful for illegal business practices. When our teacher mentioned the district competition, I became interested in applying the economic principles I had learned.
We began weekly practice sessions. Our advisers (a local business volunteer, and our Junior Achievement liaison) put in long hours explaining principles and strategies and helping us interpret data. Their guidance is what makes Junior Achievement programs unique, and was an immeasurable help.
Each of us had other commitments - music groups, National Honor Society, jobs, other clubs - but JA Titan was a priority. Yes, there was another motivation: We could earn a trip to Disney World. But that, especially as we continued competing, was a benefit, not a reason for participating.
Of course, we faced obstacles. At the district competition, we placed second and third and I was thrilled to learn that all of us would continue. At this point our camaraderie and team dynamics were really beginning to gel. We decided to dress for success. It was, we believed, an outward display of our aptitude for business.
For practice, my team members played in groups and against each other so often that soon we could guess what each person’s strategy would be, helping us become better competitors. We combined our individual strategies to create a nearly impervious team business plan, and we knew what economic principles to apply in any situation.
And so we made it to Disney World. It was a fantastic way to end my high school career. JA Titan was not just about business, it was about being friends, having fun, and being a team.
When the final round of the individual competition arrived, the JA Worldwide coordinator invited all team members not participating to stay and watch, but my team members were the only ones who did. We were determined to play the best game possible, and vowed that any success we had was for the whole team. When three of us ended in the top three positions, we were all ecstatic - our preparation had paid off.
Congratulations came from everywhere. At the awards banquet, Mickey Mouse shook our hands and gave us our own sets of mouse ears. Our local newspaper ran articles. Our advisers received congratulations from coworkers, faculty, even strangers at the deli. Perhaps the greatest feeling was to walk off the plane back home and see a crowd of proud parents who burst into applause.
Although this experience will be among my best memories, a quote from the awards banquet is what I will remember most about JA Titan. The speaker discussed the difference between success and achievement. At first, the words seemed interchangeable, but then I understood his point. I have been part of sports teams and music ensembles, but nowhere was the idea of team so close as in JA Titan. To make it to Disney World and win was success, but to bond together, have fun, and overcome obstacles - with winning as a final coronation - now that is achievement.
You can learn more about JA Titan by going to www.ja.org/programs/programs_high_titan.shtml.