JA Programming at Denver Startup Week Empowers Young Minds, Provides Fulfilling Experience for Volunteers

JA Students and volunteer at Denver Startup Week

Nowhere is entrepreneurship more real and exciting for youth than at Denver Startup Week. One of the highlights of the week was the Denver Startup Week Youth Pass – Early Access event where Junior Achievement-Rocky Mountain, Inc. (JA) high school students were able to meet real-world innovators and learn all about starting a business. Thanks to the support of Comcast Technology Solutions, JA was able to offer the program for the third year in a row at no cost to students or schools.

Comcast Technology Solutions employee Lain Adams was one of the JA volunteers who spent the day guiding students through a few of Denver Startup Week’s most popular sessions and facilitating debrief discussions.

“We know that growing a business in Denver, living in Denver, and shaping this community requires active, inspired young people, so it’s great for us to be on the leading edge of that movement by participating in events like this,” Adams says. “Giving back to the community and inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit are two of our core values and we try to live that out as frequently as possible.”

Olivia Omega kicked off the event as keynote speaker and focused on the importance of personal branding, encouraging students to consider how their actions demonstrate their character. Adams says that when students reflected in their small groups, they started to think about how their brands are defined not necessarily by what they do but how they do it. Other workshop sessions covered topics such as building podcasts, interpersonal communication, and overcoming roadblocks when growing a business.

The students were eager to learn the ins and outs of business in a real-world setting, and each individual had their own unique motivation to participate in Denver Startup Week. For Wesley Miranda, a senior at Denver School of Science and Technology – Green Valley Ranch, learning tools to expand brand awareness was the main draw. He says, “I came here to learn more about multimedia marketing. I want to become an expert, but I’m not there yet. Events like this will get me there.”

While the workshop content was inspiring on its own, the most significant impact comes from volunteers who share their personal and professional experiences as examples of successful adulthood.

Kate Krumm, a JA volunteer from Comcast Technology Solutions, says, “Not everybody might have the mentorship from parents, family or friends who might be able to provide this kind of guidance, so I think this is a great opportunity for them to hear from professionals and other individuals in the community who can really be an influence for them as they grow and learn.”

Her colleague and fellow volunteer Alex Kaney agrees. “The value of mentorship is something that can’t be overstated; to have a positive adult that cares about the student’s success and is going to hold them accountable, provide solid role modeling, and be able to lend a helping hand…Junior Achievement really continues to foster students’ relationships with trusted adults and it’s exciting to continue to be a part of it.”

The Denver Startup Week experience was equally valuable for students and volunteers. The energy, enthusiasm and dialogue with students gave the adults a sense of hope for the next generation of leaders. “I came here to be with these young entrepreneurs – these young folks who ultimately will be giving back to the community, and to be a part of that is very fulfilling…It’s very compelling and rewarding as a volunteer.” Adams says.