JA Perspective – Then and Now

Posted in: Alumni Stories, JA Impact

Rachana Rao is a JA alumna and worked alongside JA staff this summer as an intern. Here, she shares her reflections on the experience:

When I first visited Junior Achievement, I was 10 years old, nervous, but determined and excited for the day ahead of me. I was on a field trip to JA BizTown, where I would be working in the radio station for a day, as an assistant to the DJ. It was a memorable experience, not only because of the fun I had choosing songs or working “like an adult”, but because it gave me confidence in my abilities and in myself.

When I came back this summer, I’m a decade older, but just as nervous, determined, and excited for the day ahead of me. This time, I walked into the office as an intern.

I came into this internship wanting to learn more about non-profits. Junior Achievement was a perfect fit, as I had first-hand experience of its programs as a young student and could really understand the impact of the organization. I’ve learned a lot, but here are some of my highlights from the experience:

  1. The misconceptions I had about non-profits have been shattered. I thought, like many other people do, that because a business is not-for-profit, it must also not be like a traditional business. I thought there would be no emphasis on revenue, or traditional workdays and hours. Was I wrong! A non-profit works just like any other business model. The only difference is what they’re working toward.
  2. Everyone works together. I don’t think I could have found any other internship where the people would be this welcoming. From the very first day, everyone in the office was incredibly helpful. I never felt like I couldn’t ask a question when I needed help (the printers are not my friends!) and I felt like everyone wanted me to succeed.
  3. I think my favorite thing about JA is that it’s a sustainable non-profit. When I say sustainable, I mean that Junior Achievement imparts kids with more than just something that lasts them for a day. JA is less about fixing the problem of a moment and more about teaching students to own their own financial success, and that’s invaluable. Every lesson they’re learning is preparing them for the real world. Every student that leaves JA leaves with knowledge and confidence, ready to conquer their dreams.

I wanted to learn what makes a non-profit a successful one, and I’m walking away from this internship with a deeper understanding of a great non-profit business model.

My internship was an incredible opportunity for me and I’m so thankful to all the wonderful and supportive people I’ve met. I had no idea what to expect of this internship, but much like my job at JA Biztown 10 years ago, I’ve found myself leaving with some newfound confidence and knowledge, ready to tackle my dreams.

Thank you, Rachana, for the great value you provided to JA! We’re proud to count you as JA family and excited to see the impact you will make on our community.