Perry High School students recently got the chance to visit Principal Financial Group in Des Moines through the Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates (iJAG) program.

Senior Marleni Grijalva organized the tour and job shadow opportunity after working for the company as a summer intern.

The iJAG students heard from Principal President Amy Friedrich on Thursday, Sept. 20 before touring the various buildings. The students then got a chance to job shadow volunteers at Principal.

The volunteers then entered their hours through a program called YourCause, which will donate money to the Perry iJAG program for upcoming workplace learning projects.

“This was something I’ve been working on since the summer and even after the internship ended, and the experience of seeing it all happen from beginning to end was truly mind-blowing,” Grijalva said.

She got the idea to raise money for the iJAG program after their teacher, Tina Lutterman, suggested having the returning students intern around Perry. The students, Grijalva said, wanted to have polos made with the iJAG logo to wear for the internships.

Grijalva then started trying to figure out how to fundraise for the shirts. She talked to the CEO at Principal, who helped put the word out and helped organize the fundraiser and the job shadow opportunity with volunteers

The Perry iJAG program will receive the funds from those volunteer hours. Grijalva added that the students also got the chance to shadow jobs they didn’t know existed.

Grijalva enjoyed getting the opportunity to go back to where she interned this summer. As did fellow senior John Borjas.

“When we went to visit, I got to visit my department again and everybody gave me hugs,” Borjas said. “It made me realize how much I miss everyone there and how very accepting, and friendly and almost a family atmosphere they built there. It’s something you can’t get in very many other companies.”

Borjas and Grijalva were the first two summer interns from the Perry iJAG program at Principal.

Tina Lutterman, iJAG instructor, said the Perry program has a partnership with Principal. Members of the financial group have been coming to the Perry classroom once a month for the past few years.

Two years ago, Lutterman said they came up with the internship idea for iJAG students. Students have the opportunity to apply, submit a resume and go through the interview process.

Grijalva and Borjas went through the interview process and were selected as interns this past summer.

“I’m always encouraging kids to just take a risk and try it. Just go for something bigger and these two did,” Lutterman said.

Grijalva worked in the life insurance department, while Borjas worked in the retirement income solutions department.

Grijalva hopes to work in the human resources department as an intern this coming summer. She plans to work at the financial group part-time while attending college for her business degree.

“They built my resume, they helped me grow as a person, they helped me become so much more confident,” she said of Principal.

Borjas also plans to work for the company after graduation as he signed a contract with Principal following his internship this summer.

“We both made lifelong friends and bonds and memories that we will never forget,” he said. “All in all, the experience is one in a lifetime. It’s something that I will never forget for my life and I’m always grateful to have had that opportunity.”

They both encourage other PHS students to consider adding iJAG as an elective class.

“My mistake, and a mistake of a lot of students, is they don’t realize how many opportunities iJAG gives that you have to be willing to take,” Grijalva said.

Lutterman added that the students will soon have more opportunities outside of the classroom. She is currently looking for businesses willing to host a student for around an hour a week from October through Thanksgiving break.

For more information, contact Lutterman at the high school, 515-465-3503.