In the company of business professionals, more than 400 students from Valley high schools, including in Ahwatukee Foothills, participated in an all-day event promoting networking, business ethics, skills and communication on Wednesday.

Scattered throughout the Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix, students walked through a series of sessions and networking time for Junior Achievement of Arizona’s You’re Hired! Challenge on March 27.

In his second year of participating in the challenge, Desert Vista student and junior varsity wrestler Dominic Williams said the event has helped his confidence.

“And I can use that confidence to get ahead in life,” he said. “Even when it comes to college applications or job interviews, I feel like I’m going to be very well equipped for any challenge that comes at me.”

In its fifth year, You’re Hired! aims to provide students with the skills, confidence and attitudes to successfully enter the world of work, according to Junior Achievement’s president Joyce Richards.

A majority of the 27 Mountain Pointe students who attended this year were freshmen, said financial math and computer applications teacher Pete Manigold.

“(They) get to learn the skills that no one really teaches,” he said.

Students are able to make short speeches in front of judges and their peers, as well as learn interviewing skills, and present pre-planned business models.

Williams, who expressed interest in a law career albeit having a dream of opening an ice cream shop, said the event has given him the tools to make a small business dream happen.

“I think that of the kids here today, all of them are really stars in their own right,” Richards said. “Many don’t realize it just yet, so participating in an experience like this helps them to look at their future in a new way.”

For more information about Junior Achievement, visit

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or Follow her on Twitter @dmartinezAFN.

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