29 students from three Dublin schools graduated from the Career Ready programme at a special ceremony hosted by Citi this week. To mark the completion of their two year programme the students were joined by the business volunteers who had worked as their mentors, representatives of supporting organisations and their special guests, Minister Paschal Donohoe, T.D., and Marissa Carter, CEO Cocoa Brown.
Career Ready develops students’ potential by enabling their involvement in a range of activities including working with a business mentor for 18 months, visiting workplaces, attending masterclasses and completing work placements. The overall aims of the JA Career Ready initiative are to help students to recognise their potential, to develop and increase their employability skills, support their academic work and introduce them to the world of work. The programme runs over two school years and the 2014-2016 cohort comprises twenty nine students from St. Paul’s CBS, North Brunswick St, Loreto College, Crumlin and Our Lady of Mercy, Beaumont.
The Career Ready 2014-16 mentors were supported by AXA, BNY Mellon, Citi and Pioneer Investments. A & L Goodbody, Accenture, Cartrawler, Dell, Diageo, EisnerAmper, Gaiety School of Acting, JLL, LinkedIn, Roly’s Restaurant, Salesforce, Sunday Business Post, Twitter and TV3 collaborated with JAI to ensure each student completed an internship and attended masterclasses, while whole TY groups from the participating schools were accommodated in workplace visits.
In welcoming all guests to Citi, Sinead Henshaw, M.D. Operations Business & Chair of Community Affairs Group outlined the organisation’s ongoing commitment to community engagement saying: “At Citi we are committed to promoting the value of education and I’m delighted to be joined by so many like-minded business leaders here today. I believe that returns for both business volunteers and students are significant. From Citi’s perspective, we really enjoyed hosting students at our office and providing internships - I have to say it was a truly energising experience for all of us at Citi.”
On behalf of Junior Achievement Ireland, CEO Helen Raftery said: “Thank you to our friends in Citi for hosting today’s celebration and for being such great partners on the Career Ready initiative. Citi is one of our most long-standing partners and it’s great that so many of our supporting organisations are represented here today as we mark our 20th anniversary in Ireland this year. Research shows us that working with ‘real-world’ volunteers helps young people to see the relevance of their academic studies to their everyday lives, which is a vital factor in persuading them to stay in school and take full advantage of the opportunity that education offers. JAI is delighted to be able to offer these learning opportunities to the participating students because of the cooperation of school leaders and the support of corporate partners.”
Reflecting on their experiences, a number of students addressed the audience to thank the mentors and the many supporting organisations involved, which had enabled all of the students selected to participate in what one described as a ‘life-changing’ programme.
On behalf of the teachers and participating schools, Paul Clarke, Deputy Principal, Our Lady of Mercy College, Beaumont said: “To all those involved in resourcing the programme – these are fantastic learning opportunities and the students derive a huge amount from their participation in all aspects of the course, which influences their college and career paths. From my perspective, I wish every student had the opportunity to take part in the progressive and beneficial programme that is Career Ready.”
In presenting certificates of completion, Minister Paschal Donohoe, T.D. wished each student every success in the future and paid special tribute to the volunteer mentors who had shown such commitment to completing the programme with their students over the course of the two school years. “We all understand the influence of role models in our lives and I feel sure each of the students graduating today will bring many new skills and the confidence they have acquired during Career Ready through to their post-school plans and as the basis for future success.” In concluding his remarks, Minister Donohoe said: “This is a truly wonderful example of what can be achieved by an enabling organisation like JAI when resources from business and education are harnessed for our young people - I congratulate JAI and all of the supporting organisations, with which it works. Happy 20th anniversary and I wish you every success in your endeavours.”
Marissa Carter, the founder and creator of Cocoa Brown, told the students about the years of study and hard work, which led to her becoming one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the multi-million euro beauty industry. Encouraging students to follow their passions Marissa said: “you have shown your commitment to your own success by completing the Career Ready programme. I really hope you can lodge the confidence gained in your memory banks and know that you can achieve anything that you set your mind to – be resilient, be determined, work with the positive influences around you and you will succeed.”