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Help Make a Difference for Iowa’s Students as an iJAG Career Development Conference Judge

iJAG Career Development Conference

January 29, 2024

Do you enjoy making a difference in young people’s lives? iJAG’s Career Development Conference is a perfect opportunity to help an amazing organization in their efforts to change the lives of Iowa’s young people.

What is iJAG’s Career Development Conference, you ask? During the State Career Development Conference (SCDC), students in grades 10-12 will participate in a full-day of career discovery and professional development with employer-led workshops, networking and a career fair.

This event features several categories of competitions that challenge students on various subject matters in addition to soft skills, presentation abilities and professionalism. Whether competing individually or as a group, students work closely with their iJAG Specialist and employer mentors to prepare for the big day.

The Judging Experience

I recall my first time judging at the SCDC. I was able to listen to students’ life stories. Some of the challenges these young adults have faced in their young lives were difficult to hear. At the same time, their stories were equally uplifting and emotional. Regardless of the circumstances they were born into, many of these students decide to face adversity with character and grace. With the help of mentors, specialists and volunteers, so many young iJAG students face their challenges and overcome them despite all they’ve been through. Many of them are eager to improve the trajectory of their lives. In some cases, this event has served as a stepping stone for the rest of their lives. This conference gives them confidence. They see what they are capable of, and shine brightly as a result. To be part of this conference and organization for so long has been such a blessing in my life. It has brought me a great deal of joy and a sense of accomplishment.

iJAG Students

I encourage you to sign up as a judge for this year’s event taking place in March at the Iowa Events Center in Downtown Des Moines (DSM). As a nonprofit organization, iJAG relies on employer partnerships and volunteer participation to aid in making a difference in their students’ lives. I’ve found that I get more out of helping these young adults than they likely do me. Please consider signing up and helping — virtual judging will be open until Monday, Feb. 5.. You never know, you could make a difference in someone’s life, and in turn, improve your own!

Learn more about the Des Moines conference on Thursday, March 28 and how to get involved as an event judge at ijag.org.

Job opportunities and career resources are abundant in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Whether you're looking to find an internship, a job, develop professionally or grow as a student, we have the resources to help you thrive.

Tom Willoughby

Tom Willoughby is the iJAG Program Manager at Principal Financial Group. As iJAG Program Manager, he is responsible for strategy and execution of Principal’s development program focused on the partnership with iJAG and high school to early career talent pipeline.