University of Denver student Janeth Mancha learned of Junior Achievement as an elementary student when her older brother talked about his experience in JA.
“Back when I was in third grade, I made the commitment that I wanted to participate in Junior Achievement when I made it to high school,” she says. “So, come freshman year, it was the very first thing that I did. It was that one thing I was looking forward to in my high school career.”
Among other activities, Mancha took part in Junior Achievement’s Business Week and Venture Academy programs. During the one-week boot camp, students work in “companies” with other students, develop a product, and pitch it to local business leaders in a “Shark Tank”-style competition. She enjoyed experimenting with different business roles, including marketing, finance, and accounting, while building great networking connections.
After experiencing Business Week as a student participant, she interned for JA to help staff plan and coordinate the following year’s event.
“I had the opportunity to be an intern when I was a high school junior because I had already gone through all of the curricula that JA had to offer. Being able to see it not only from a student perspective but also to get to see the back end of things was a valuable experience,” Mancha says.
As part of the Venture Academy program, students pitch their company ideas. Mancha’s idea became a real business when she was just 15. Through Sport Cabanas, she would rent canopies and chairs at youth sporting events. In hot weather, she provided misters, and in cold weather, she offered heaters. Each event was a learning experience. Eventually, she liquidated the business, and she learned from that process as well. She often shares her takeaways from being a young business owner at JA events.
“Some of my greatest memories are from being a guest speaker for JA. I’ve been able to meet so many people and learn so much about public speaking,” she says.
When she received a scholarship from JA, it made all the difference. Although she had applied to 22 colleges, one stood out for her.
“The JA scholarship was my make-it-or-break-it deal for the University of Denver. It was huge to receive the scholarship that allowed me to come to my dream school,” says Mancha.
She first visited the DU campus when she was in the eighth grade, and years later, as a new student there, Mancha joined a campus leadership program. She’s studying marketing at DU’s Daniels College of Business and will graduate in June.
Currently, Mancha is interning with the Colorado Impact Fund. This venture capital firm invests in Colorado companies with high-growth, scalable business models and a commitment to improving their community. Here, she completes diligence activities, such as market research, competitive analysis, and technology differentiation for potential investors. She also helps provide their current portfolio companies with insights on how they can optimize their social media marketing strategies.
Upon graduation, she will attend graduate school to pursue a career in elementary education. She is eager to serve as a role model and inspiration for students, all while being able to instill the JA curricula into her classroom. She hopes to take advantage of summers to work on her entrepreneurial endeavors.
She says that anyone looking to volunteer or anyone who’s looking to get involved with JA as a student should go for it.
“Know that you’re always going to have a solid support system from the staff and the other students. Some words of wisdom—don’t be afraid to reach out to these people because they are always willing to help you,” she says. “Junior Achievement 100 percent launched my entire career.”