It was a cold, spring day (in a spring with too many cold, spring days) when nearly 100 Newark students converged on PSEG’s corporate headquarters. They learned about teamwork and in-demand jobs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), heard from PSEG employees about their own career paths, and met and interacted with students from other Newark high schools. It was a great day for the students but also for more than two dozen PSEG volunteers who spent the day at the Jr. Achievement Career Success workshop.
Jr. Achievement (JA) helps develop financial literacy and leadership skills that will allow students to succeed in a job – and in life. And, JA provides opportunities for PSEG employees to do what they have been doing for more than 115 years – giving back to the communities where we serve. (JA almost is as old as PSEG, celebrating its 100th year of serving students in 2019.)
The volunteer activities the PSEG employees engage in are as diverse and rich as the programs JA offers.
Some help at JA BizTown, a mini-city where, after 13 engaging teacher-taught lessons held at their schools, students come to JA facilities in Edison, New Jersey. There, they role play in what looks to be miniaturized Hollywood sets, including a radio station, a bank and city hall. It is a pleasure to see students excitedly try out such roles as CEO, medical technician, salesperson or scientists (maybe they would consider adding an auditor role!).
Other employees volunteer at JA Finance Park where seventh- to 12th-graders learn about financial literacy – and try their hands at the real world challenges of budgeting and being a smart, educated consumer, including paying their electric bills at PSE&G’s kiosk. Maybe the most important lesson they learn is the connection between getting a good education and building a good career.
And even more PSEG employees participate in the High School Hero Ambassador program, where high school students learn about energy and then develop their skills by teaching what they have learned to elementary students.
Last year, PSEG sponsored a JA Women’s Future Leadership Forum where more than 70 high school girls met with female role models to help guide them in reaching their full potential. We also had a group of PSEG women participate as mentors. I facilitated one of the sessions and, as usual, was so impressed with both the students and the PSEG employees.
PSEG employees help guide JA, as well, with Laurent Pommier, our Chief Risk Officer, serving on the Northern New Jersey board of directors and Frank Lucchesi from our regional public affairs group serving on the Central Jersey board of directors.
PSEG, like many of New Jersey’s good corporate citizens, donates funds for JA programs – we will have given more than $450,000 by the end of this decade. This is important because JA never charges students or schools for its programs.
However, what I believe to be most valuable is the volunteers sharing their career paths and work experiences with students. Seeing teams of PSEG workers energized and engaged as they return from volunteer days convinces me that employees benefit just as much. It makes sense – Public Service is not just part of our name, it is who we are.
Christine Neely is Vice President of Internal Audit for PSEG. She regularly volunteers her time at JA programs and as a state board member for Jr. Achievement of New Jersey.
While PSEG supplies many volunteers for Jr. Achievement, they always can use more – if you or your organization would like to get to know more about volunteering, check out their website at www.JANJ.org. If you are a teacher interested in learning how your class can benefit from one of the amazing JA programs – you can check it out, as well.