Exhibit, events and experiential design company Ignition completed a first, entirely virtual career expo for Junior Achievement (JA) JobSpark in Central Indiana, introducing thousands of 8th grade students to potential career paths across eight key local industry sectors and ensuring JA’s ongoing mission to inspire students’ future career choices was maintained during the Covid-19 crisis.
“Junior Achievement is the charity Ignition’s US office had previously chosen to support,” Carrie Logie, Chief Operating Officer of Ignition’s Indianapolis office commented, “and they have a fantastic reputation in Indianapolis, which also made this project one that was particularly close to our hearts.”
Both Ignition’s US and UK offices were involved in the design of the new virtual project, which represented over 100 potential employers, either based or represented in Central Indiana. The project combined the company’s physical exhibit design expertise and digital/virtual innovations to create a fully immersive experience. The virtual event replaced the physical event for the first time in history because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Ignition has now been commissioned to create additional JA JobSpark Virtual events, for JA’s Northern Indiana and Southwestern Indiana regions in spring 2021, as well as a JA career fair event aimed at Central Indiana high school students.
About Junior Achievement
Founded in 1919, not-for-profit organization Junior Achievement has 106 local JA Areas across the United States and is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their futures, and make smart academic and economic choices. JA’s programs – in the core content areas of work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy – ignite the spark in young people to experience and realize the opportunities and realities of work and life in the 21st century.
The new event typology – JA JobSpark Virtual – represents a coalition of educators and industry leaders coming together to offer students the opportunity to learn about careers from industry representatives in time to begin planning for their high school course work and better preparing them for life after high school graduation. The two-day event will be formally integrated into the school curriculum, with 24/7 access to the JA JobSpark Virtual Platform after the live event finishes, with corporate partners also able to add recorded presentations and videos throughout the year for expanded 24/7 student access.
Format of the First Event
To give students a sense of continuity, the first ever virtual event started with an animated fly-through showing the approach to the real, physical venue (the Indiana State Fairgrounds) where the live event had traditionally been held, before landing in a virtual event hall, where a map offered the choice of eight different career ‘clusters’:
Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering & Logistics
Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources
Architecture, Engineering & Construction
Business, Finance & Marketing
Government, Law & Public Service
Health & Life Sciences
Hospitality, Tourism & Arts
Each color-coded 3D cluster represented one of these eight sectors and featured corporate logos of the partnering organizations on each wall. By clicking on any logo in any room, students were free to roam and to enter he virtual space to access PDFs and videos sharing information regarding careers in that company and sector, with information on what jobs might be possible, along with practical information on salary, training, and skill levels. The goal was to enable students to make more informed choices about subjects they may choose to study. For potential employers, various levels of participation and sponsorship were possible, including advertising on a moving virtual banner for those not taking on a full presence within one of the clusters.
Individual school visits were scheduled for efficiency, with visitors also able to access a resources area and a help desk, which Ignition staffed throughout the two-day event. Virtual presentations with industry representatives were linked to the event, including twenty live speaker sessions held in a virtual auditorium with Q&As. Questions were monitored by JA facilitators to ensure user safety, with students’ own cameras disabled.
“We made sure we were available at all times,” Ignition’s US office Chief Operating Officer Carrie Logie explained, “to support our client and their guests and to ensure proactively that everything was functioning properly.”
Over 7,000 users accessed the first virtual event over two days, with over 11,000 total visits and an average dwell time of 24 minutes.
“The event was judged to be particularly successful in terms of student participation and responsiveness,” Alex Saxon, Digital Project Director at Ignition’s UK office commented, “with the live sessions followed by huge numbers of questions – far more than expected in fact, showing that the virtual environment in some ways liberated students from being self-conscious about asking for information. Because digital projects provide a breadth and depth of user analytics, we’re able to review and improve constantly and combining this with user research, we look to make the next events even better, with more added gamification elements to make the experience as much fun as possible for students.”
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Ignition, founded in 2007, is an independently owned UK business and sustainable practice pioneer. Forming part of creative business group Istoria Group, Ignition was established to provide creatively led design and project management services to the global exhibitions, events and experiences industries. The company – which also has a US-based office in Indianapolis – works across many sectors, from pharmaceutical, healthcare and beauty to aerospace, construction, engineering, and manufacturing, as well as technology, education and FMCG businesses.
Ignition holds a number of globally recognized ISO standards, most notably as one of the first companies in the world to be certified with the ISO 20121 Sustainable Event Management standard – and the first within the exhibitions industry. Ignition is also certified with ISO 14001 – Environmental Management and ISO 9001 – Quality Management. In 2020, Ignition’s pioneering advances within its industry were rewarded by being given The Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development. The company also won Best Sustainable Organisation at the IEMA Sustainability Impact Awards 2020.