An Organization with a Stellar Reputation

The US office of international exhibit, events and experiential design agency Ignition had supported Junior Achievement (JA) JobSpark for a number of years as its chosen charity, admiring the organization’s stellar reputation and fully supporting its mission to inspire young students’ future career choices. The pandemic was, of course, the worst possible circumstance in which to join forces professionally, but it also made the partnership a unique adventure into uncharted waters and a great learning experience for us all – not just for the students.

Pausing the Physical

Any business or organization with integrity and vision had to respond when the pandemic began, even if that meant setting off initially into unknown territory with no clear vision of the future. For Junior Achievement, there was no question of letting all the students entering 8th grade down – nor the potential employers hoping to attract the brightest and the best. Doing nothing was not an option and so the idea of a virtual event (rather than a physical one) took hold for the first time in the organization’s history.

Ignition, with its long grounding in physical events and experiences, was pivoting too, busy building a new virtual capacity to help partner clients through exceptional times. The Ignition team worked long hours to get up to speed, learning new skills, investing in the best digital talent, and making sure they could deliver events that were meaningful and effective.

Partnership and Communication

The two companies subsequently partnered on a series of virtual and semi-virtual projects, learning more each time as they liaised across the US and the UK, with key people in both organizations often working from home. Good communication was absolutely vital to make it all happen.

‘We made sure we were available at all times,” Ignition’s Exhibit Project Director Mark Gore explained, “to support our client and their guests and to ensure proactively that everything was functioning properly.”

The process was engaging, informative and great to be a part of”, Alyssa Andis, SVP of Strategy and Programs, JA of Central Indianaadded. “It was clear that Ignition wanted to provide an experience that worked for JA, not necessarily something they’ve done before, which helped us provide something special just for our students.”      

An Evolving Format

The new event typology – JA JobSpark Virtual – represented a coalition of educators and industry leaders coming together to offer students the opportunity to learn about careers from industry representatives. Over 7,400 users accessed the first Central Indiana virtual event over two days, with over 11,000 total visits and an average dwell time of 24 minutes. Other event formats followed, each including more successful features than the last as lessons were learnt and refinements made. Further event formats followed – not only for the Central Indiana team – but also for the South Western Indiana and Northern Indiana teams.

“I particularly love the narrators in the STEM site and the interactive background and images” Andis commented. “The narrators really bring the user into the experience and keep them engaged throughout. They are friendly and relatable and make you want to learn more! It is unique and different to many virtual school experiences which is a great way for us to stand out.

I also like the fly-ins that were created for JA JobSpark and 3E Fair. They are a fun way to bring you in and get the user excited for what is next” Andis concluded.

“With the switch from 3D to a 2D/3D mix, our site/processing time was faster as well as having quick turnaround time to make updates as needed. Ignition’s design provided great visibility for our sponsors and volunteer partners, which is really important to us. The platform connected students well to the classroom curriculum. We appreciated the team’s knowledge and experience with past virtual career expos and suggestions made based on that.”  
Cindy Kicinski, Career Success Director / Molly Baines, Career Success Manager      

Learning from Experience

We learned a huge amount through these collaborations’, Sam Rowe, CEO of Ignition, commented. ‘It was by no means smooth sailing all the way, but a relationship based on mutual respect, belief and hard work paid great dividends and we are incredibly proud of our internal culture of continual improvement and the way it enabled us to deliver some great results. We hugely support JA JobSpark’s fantastic mission to encourage the potential of young people and look forward to many more collaborations!”

“Ignition is able to create a much more customized and engaging platform than its competitors. Communication was always good and response time was quick, which is appreciated! We were also right on track with our timeline this year which provided us time for testing and peace of mind for a successful event.”          
Cindy Kicinski, Career Success Director / Molly Baines, Career Success Manager, Junior Achievement of Central Indiana.       

“I have truly enjoyed working with the members of the Ignition team. They have such passion for what they do and it shows in the design and build of each project. Ignition can do it all – they create, design, and build your vision!” Alyssa Andis, SVP of Strategy and Programs, Junior Achievement of Central Indiana.