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Junior Achievement (JA) USA is an economic educational organization that teaches kids financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship, and they reach about 4.8 million kids each year with the support of volunteers from the community. JA conducted research with Ernst & Young Global Limited (EY), which is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The research presents the findings of ORC International’s Youth CARAVAN survey conducted among a sample of 1,000 13-17 year olds.” The research revealed that 91% of teenage boys and girls ages 13-17 know what kind of career they want after they graduate from high school, but that is where the similarities end.

The data shows that career preferences remain drawn along gender lines, with more than one-third (36%) of boys pursuing careers in STEM vs. only 11 percent of girls. Twenty-six percent of girls plan to study for careers in the arts (vs. 10% of boys) and girls favor careers in the medical/dental field 24 percent to just six percent of boys.” Research shows that girls are more interested in wanting to help people, which is why many girls end up in the medical field. In regards to boys, fun and financial ability are a necessity to them.

Furthermore, students are also very informed when it comes to college and the money that is needed in order for students to attend school. According to Ed Grocholski, Senior Vice President of Brand for Junior Achievement, noted that there is 1.3 trillion dollars in student debt, so students are taking this into consideration and trying to find a way to avoid student debt as much as possible. This includes attending a public school or a community college, or many students may have to work while they attend school. It was noted that, “85 percent of teens expect to pay for some or all of their education, whether through loans, scholarships, or jobs.”

In addition, the three top career influences are parents, and societal influences such as TV, media, and even a class or teacher. Research showed that environmental influences are huge when it comes to kids deciding what career they want to choose. In the past, they’ve done research on dream jobs, and what they have found is that when there is a popular show on TV, there is a spike of interest in that career field. For example, according to Grocholski, when Grey’s Anatomy debuted, there was a tremendous jump in girls wanting to be in the medical field. “Whatever is kind of everyone’s focus, you tend to see teen’s focus their energy on those kind of careers,” expressed Grocholski.

Other Research Points:

  • “Only nine percent of boys and girls aspire to start their own business.”
  • “Only seven percent of boys and girls have chosen to work in public service.”
  • “Boys on their dream jobs: Think it would be fun (28%), I’d be good at it (21%), I’d make a lot of money (17%)”
  • “Girls on their dream jobs: I would help people (25%), I’d be good at it (23%), I think it would be fun (20%)”
  • “Ability to have a meaningful career and a family (52% of girls vs. 46% of boys)”
  • “Ability to do something meaningful for the community/society (45% of girls vs. 33% of boys)”
  • “Flexibility in work schedule/location (39% of boys vs. 36% of girls)”
  • “Professional advancement to become a leader/expert (29% of boys vs. 23% of girls)

Junior Achievement also helps many students in Southeast Texas. They provide “in-school and after school programs for students in grades K-12. They have nearly 12,500 volunteers who plan to reach 315,000 students in more than 950 schools this year.” If you are interested in learning more about the organization, you can visit there website at For kids, they also have a free service that gives kids access to resources in regards to career exploration, money management, and business ownership. You can visit for more information.

By: Chelsea Davis-Bibbs