JA Alumni Story – Taylor Kinnerup

Posted in: Alumni Stories

From a young age, Taylor had a plan. She knew she would be a news broadcaster on the radio. What she never expected was that her JA experience would provide her with the skills and confidence she needed to get there.

Taylor was raised in a very supportive household with parents who instilled manners and life skills in Taylor and her siblings. But not all skills are taught at home. When she was a fifth grader at St. Francis Xavier in Phoenix, Arizona, Taylor recalls participating in a program that taught work and life skills. She vividly remembers being interviewed by a volunteer parent and learning valuable interview tactics.

This was the preparation for Junior Achievement’s BizTown program as well as a precursor for the interviews Taylor would encounter throughout her life.

“Everything I remember learning are timeless skills. As we get more isolated, there are skills that can be easily deteriorated and forgotten – like shaking hands and looking people in the eye. I can’t think of a single person on earth who has applied for a job that that’s not relevant for.”

When the day came for Taylor to work in the JA BizTown simulation, she was excited for her role as an accountant, even though she had wanted the role of radio DJ. Taylor spent the day at her computer completing accounting tasks, collaborating with peers and making decisions. She felt independent and “in charge” as if no adults were present.

Taylor spoke enthusiastically as she recalled the details of JA BizTown. “It inspires a lot of autonomy, enhances decision making, and empowers you to make those decisions.” The experience was the first stepping stone into a life and career of self-confidence.

As Taylor continued her education, she found herself interviewing for a waitress position while in high school. Calling upon the interview skills she had learned in her JA program, she aced the interview and was told she was the most prepared out of all the candidates.

But Taylor didn’t stop there. She went on to college at the University of Missouri where she studied journalism and radio production, and simultaneously got a job working for a local radio station. Again, she found an opportunity to exercise the confidence that JA had given her.

Today, Taylor is the Breaking News Editor and Reporter for KTAR News in Arizona. As one of the youngest members on staff, she often thanks JA for giving her the confidence to assert herself in a room of older co-workers.

“Having that responsibility so young gives you confidence to be the youngest in the room and still be strong. People still talk down to younger people, but having those skills and that confidence from a young age to make decisions about career and life goals instantly made me seem older and puts off a confidence and maturity that makes people believe I am competent. I am positive that that came from having JA at a young age.”