New National Poll: Teens Value 'Doing Good' More Than Making Money

Despite tough economy, Junior Achievement-ING 'Kids and Careers' poll finds overwhelming majority of teens confident they'll get ideal job

Jan 26, 2010, 08:00 ET from Junior Achievement

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Jan. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Teens entering the workforce today face one of the worst recessions in decades but remain optimistic about their future careers. In fact, 90 percent of teens are confident they will one day have their ideal job, according to a national poll released today by Junior Achievement (JA) and ING. Additionally, an overwhelming majority—84 percent—said they'd forego getting that perfect job for the opportunity to make a difference in the world. When asked to identify which factors would motivate them to sacrifice getting the ideal job, more teens chose "having a positive impact on society" than "being well paid," "having decision-making responsibilities," having a job that was "extremely challenging," and a job that provided "publicity and recognition."

Teens' optimism runs counter to findings of a recent Conference Board study, which found the level of job satisfaction among adult, employed Americans at 45 percent—a 22-year low.  In contrast to the JA-ING survey findings, Conference Board respondents under age 25 expressed the highest level of dissatisfaction with their jobs of any age group surveyed, at 64 percent.

While the economic climate has improved over the past year, nearly three-quarters—74 percent—of teens responding to the JA-ING survey are more worried, or as worried, now about their future job prospects compared to a year ago. Of those teens who said they were more worried now about their job prospects, 64 percent said they were anxious about the economy, and over half—55 percent—cited the unemployment rate as the most troubling issue.

When asked about the most important factors in getting a good job, nearly all teens polled ranked "believing in yourself" (93 percent) and "getting good grades" (93 percent). Additionally, 83 percent believe work readiness programs, if offered by schools, would prepare them for a successful career.

"Teens' optimism and energy are inspiring. As they look toward career paths, positive attitudes ultimately could help to end this economic slump," said Jack E. Kosakowski, president of Junior Achievement USA. "Teens are telling us they want to channel this energy and invest in their future careers. Junior Achievement programs help kids reach their goals by providing them with positive career role models and with the tools to be successful in the workplace, such as leadership and teamwork skills."

Rhonda Mims, president of the ING Foundation, added, "From an employer's perspective, programs such as JA Job Shadow are key to creating a well-prepared workforce, because they provide a multi-faceted approach to teaching career skills. Job shadowing gives students the foundational tools they need to build a successful career, such as critical-thinking and leadership skills. It also provides important positive role models in the classroom volunteers who deliver the curriculum and the mentor whom the students shadow in the workplace. So, the students are given the opportunity to contextualize what they learn from the JA Job Shadow program and see the relevance of those concepts in a real-life situation."

Junior Achievement provides resources and programs, which connect the educational experience provided by schools to the demands of the workplace, such as job shadowing and career counseling, which enable students to formulate their goals and succeed professionally. JA Job Shadow is a proven-effective program that helps students learn hands-on about the world of work. The program provides engaging, academically enriching and experiential learning sessions in work-readiness education and career perspectives. JA also provides virtual Job Shadow experiences free of charge, where students can view more than 130 different job-specific videos to help them discover their career path.

Gabrielle Ruiz, age 17, a senior at Houston's Klein High School and a JA Job Shadow student, noted, "Job shadowing helped me decide what kind of career I want to pursue. After shadowing Tiffany Jackson of AT&T, I found I had the talent to excel at accounting. I am excited to pursue a career that I will love doing, and my JA participation has also helped me prepare for the workforce by showing me how to work with others and be part of a team."

In other key findings of the survey, when asked what their schools could do to better prepare them for the workplace, teens responded as follows to a list provided:  

  • To better understand the relevance of  what they learn at school to the real world (87 percent)
  • To have real-world experiences, such as job shadowing (85 percent)  
  • Access to more programs preparing them to be successful in the workplace (83 percent)
  • Receive more career counseling (79 percent)

For more information about JA Job Shadow or other related programs, visit:


The Junior Achievement-ING Kids and Careers Poll was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation from December 10-13, 2009, and surveyed 750 U.S. boys and girls ages 12-17 by telephone. The survey's margin of error is +/- 3.4 percent.

About Junior Achievement® (JA)

Junior Achievement is the world's largest organization dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. Through a dedicated volunteer network, Junior Achievement provides in-school and after-school programs for students which focus on three key content areas: work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. Today, 131 individual area operations reach more than four million students in the United States, with an additional five million students served by operations in 125 other countries worldwide. For more information, visit

About ING

ING is a global financial institution of Dutch origin offering banking, investments, life insurance, and retirement services to over 85 million residential, corporate and institutional clients in more than 40 countries. With a diverse workforce of about 115,000 people, ING is dedicated to setting the standard in helping our clients manage their financial future.

In the U.S., the ING (NYSE: ING) family of companies offers a comprehensive array of financial services to retail and institutional clients, which includes life insurance, retirement plans, mutual funds, managed accounts, alternative investments, direct banking, institutional investment management, annuities, employee benefits, financial planning, and reinsurance. ING holds top-tier rankings in key U.S. markets and serves nearly 30 million customers across the nation.

ING's diversity management philosophy and commitment to workplace diversity, diversity marketing, corporate citizenship and supplier diversity fosters an inclusive environment for employees that supports a distinctive product and service experience for the financial services consumer.

For more information, visit

About the ING Foundation

The ING Foundation's mission is to improve the quality of life in communities where ING operates and its employees and customers live. Through charitable giving and employee volunteerism, the foundation focuses on programs in the areas of financial literacy, children's education, diversity, and environmental sustainability.

For more information, visit


Stephanie Bell

JA Worldwide®

(719) 540-6171

Audria Belton Benn


(770) 980-5715

SOURCE Junior Achievement