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40 Below, Junior Achievement team up on job shadow venture

Job Shadow Syracuse co-founders, from left to right, Chris McCarthy, Steve Vonderweidt, and AJ Richichi. (Photo by Nicole Collins)

JSS will seek to provide local high-school students with opportunities to discover their career interests. It will include in-class sessions on topics such as résumé writing and interview preparation, followed by a day of job shadowing at local companies, according to AJ Richichi, co-founder of JSS and founder of ChronicleMe, Inc., which offers an anonymous social-media platform.

JSS is a revamped version of the job shadow program that 40 Below’s Civic Engagement Task Force (CETF) implemented a couple years ago, called Future 40 Belowers. The purpose of this program was to connect high-school students with young professionals to job shadow for the day.


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Junior Achievement offers its own job shadow program that includes having students learn the key factors of career planning combined with a visit to a professional in the work environment.

“After speaking with Steve [Vonderweidt] at Junior Achievement (JA), we realized that a partnership between JA and 40 Below would vastly improve the project,” says Richichi “It was a situation where 1+1 equaled 3.”

Vonderweidt, the Syracuse executive director for Junior Achievement of CUNY, says that the goal was to “find a more holistic way to give the kids what they need. JA and 40 Below’s infrastructure seemed to be a perfect match [to do that.]”

Vonderweidt and Richichi operate the program along with two other 40 Below members, Chris McCarthy of ChronicleMe, and Stephen Terzolo, of Pyramid Companies and a CETF co-chair. All four are considered co-founders of JSS.

JA will provide staffing to administer the program, while 40 Below coordinates the social-media efforts and develops the website, ChronicleMe will pay for the server and technology, says Richichi.

“As of now, we have far more students than professionals, and thus cannot place all students who [have signed] up. It’s important to our program and community to place eager students into work environments to learn about potential jobs,” says Richichi.

In an effort to get the word out to young professionals about the program, the group hosted the formal launch of JSS with its “Job Shadow Syracuse Expo” on Thursday evening at the Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse. The event featured keynote speakers, Ed Riley of the Hotel Syracuse project and Pete Richichi of WYNIT, as well as about 15 nonprofit exhibitors. More than 50 people attended the expo.

While the focus of the event was to highlight the JSS program, it also resembled the types of programming CETF typically offers. “We connect young professionals to local nonprofits, with volunteer opportunities and board positions,” says McCarthy, who is also a former CETF co-chair. “It’s what CETF is all about.”

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