Celebrating Achievement and Empowering Arizona's Youth: A Recap of the 2024 Career Development Conference

Highlights from the 2024 Career Development Conference
April 30, 2024

On April 11th, 2024, the Mesa Convention Center was transformed into a hub of excitement, inspiration, and growth as Jobs for Arizona's Graduates (JAG) hosted its highly anticipated Career Development Conference. This annual event has become a cornerstone of youth empowerment and professional development in Arizona, bringing together students, educators, volunteers, and community members from across the state. 

The Career Development Conference was a culmination of months of preparation, dedication, and hard work by students, educators, and organizers alike. As the doors opened and attendees flooded into the convention center, the atmosphere was electric with anticipation. Nearly 800 students, representing schools and communities from every corner of Arizona, gathered to showcase their talents, sharpen their skills, and connect with mentors and industry professionals. 

The day kicked off with an energizing welcome from Arianna, a senior at West Point High School and the Arizona JAG Career Association State President. After leading the pledge and setting the tone for the day, Arianna introduced Marjorie DeRubeis, JAG's President and CEO, to welcome the students to the conference. Marjorie's warm words of encouragement set the stage for a day filled with inspiration, learning, and growth. 

Throughout the conference, students had the opportunity to participate in a diverse array of activities designed to enhance their employability skills, foster leadership development, and prepare them for future success. From interactive workshops on resume building and interview techniques to competitive events such as mock interviews, public speaking competitions, and team-building exercises, the agenda was packed with opportunities for students to learn, grow, and excel. 

One of the highlights of the conference was the keynote address by Kira Canada, the 2023-24 National President of Jobs for America's Graduates (JAG) student organization—the national JAG Career Association (JAG CA). At 19 years old and a freshman at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), Kira's journey from a high school student to a national leader was inspiring. She shared her personal experiences, including her initial setback of not making the cut at the state level Career Development Conference in 2022. However, Kira's resilience and determination led her to run for a National Officer position, ultimately becoming the President-elect for 2022-23 and serving as President for the past year. Her message resonated deeply with the students, reminding them of the importance of taking risks, learning from failure, and seizing opportunities. 

Throughout the day, the convention center was filled with energy as students engaged in workshops, competed in events, and networked with professionals from various industries. Employer partners and volunteers were impressed by the professionalism, enthusiasm, and talent displayed by the JAG students, who approached each activity with dedication and passion. 

In addition to the competitive events and workshops, the Career Development Conference provided a platform for recognition and celebration. Awards were presented to students who excelled in various categories, honoring their achievements and contributions to their schools and communities. One of the awards ceremony's highlights was the presentation of the Community Service Award, established in honor of APS, to recognize an organization that has invested both human and financial resources in support of JAG. Boeing was selected as the 2024 recipient of the award, in recognition of their dedication to serving others and their commitment to empowering Arizona's youth. 

The 2024 Career Development Conference was not just a one-day event; it was a testament to the potential and promise of Arizona's youth, and a reminder of the impact that programs like JAG can have on shaping the leaders of tomorrow. 

Overall, the 2024 Career Development Conference was a resounding success, thanks to the dedication of the JAG staff, the support of the volunteers and sponsors, and, most importantly, the enthusiasm and talent of the students who participated. As Arizona continues to invest in its youth, events like these play a crucial role in shaping the future workforce and ensuring a brighter tomorrow for all of Arizona’s students.  

We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our event and table sponsors!  

  • APS  
  • Boeing  
  • Choice Hotels  
  • COX Charities  
  • Desert Diamond Casinos  
  • Honeywell  
  • Tolleson Community Coalition 
Nicole Porter
Director of Marketing & Communications
AZ Tax Credit Funds
(602) 216-9503 I info@jagaz.org
10201 S. 51st Street, Ste 125, Phoenix, AZ 85044
Copyright 2020 -  Jobs for Arizona Graduates
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