“Someone recently told me that there is no growth in your comfort zone, and no comfort in your growth zone,” said JA Volunteer Gabe Cohen. “Doing the things that often scare us will lead to positive results.”
Venturing outside his comfort zone is exactly what Cohen did when his friend encouraged him to get involved with JA of Georgia’s Company Program as a high school sophomore. He enjoyed the experience so much that he continued the program until graduation.
Now a D.C. transplant and a Business and Technology Senior Analyst for Accenture, Gabe capitalized on his company’s strong relationship with JA and decided to give back by becoming a volunteer.
“I wanted to get involved as a volunteer because of the impact my own experience had on my personal and professional growth,” he said.
Cohen currently serves as lead mentor for Accenture’s team of JA Company Program students. The JA Company Program is a six-month-long program in which students are challenged to work in teams and put their ideas into action by launching and operating a startup. Cohen guides the students as they learn to apply entrepreneurial thinking to all aspects of school, work, and life.
Cohen says his work with the Company Program students has been rewarding. “I love when the students really understand the material and begin to talk about the things they’ve learned and apply them to real life,” he said.
Transitioning from a JA student to a JA volunteer does come with its challenges, Cohen admits. “As a student in the Company Program, I wanted us to have the best financial results while also learning some business skills along the way. As a volunteer, I want students to focus on the learning aspect and put their fiscal goals in second.”
Cohen also says he’s pleasantly surprised by how much the structure of the JA Company Program has grown since he was in high school. Junior Achievement has made leaps and bounds in standardizing the program across the country and introducing new materials. “I think these investments are really important and the reason the program is so scalable,” he said.
During Cohen’s time as a Company Program student in Atlanta, he was a part of three companies. His company "Start-Up," which produced hand-painted trivets, won first place in Georgia’s regional competition and third place in the National Student Leadership Summit (NSLS) in Washington, D.C. His company "Custom Coasters” placed first in both the Georgia and NSLS competitions that year.
“The experience was amazing, and I still keep in touch with some people I met at the competition,”
he said. “We had fantastic advisers and mentors, and Sam Deich (Controller, UPS) in particular had a major impact on my growth and learning in the program.”
Cohen’s passion for business and finance stems from his father, who taught him the ins and outs of investment early-on in life.
“My mom, dad, and sister have always pushed me to try my hardest in everything I do and not stress about the outcome,” he said. “Seeing them do the same and succeed in various ways throughout my life gives me the ability to step out of my comfort zone and reach for new opportunities.”
When he’s not busy keeping up-to-date with the dips and rises of the stock market, Cohen loves to play tennis with friends and family.
Click here to learn more about the JA Company Program.
Feeling inspired by Gabe’s Volunteer Spotlight? Click here to find a Junior Achievement volunteer opportunity that’s right for you.