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Program to ignite entrepreneurialism in students

Monday, April 21, 2008   (0 Comments)
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By Tracy Corcoran

This summer, the Academy of Leadership and Liberty and Oklahoma Christian University's School of Business Administration will be starting a new program called Business Week.

Business Week is a business preparation program designed for high school juniors and seniors. The program will provide the students with skills they will need when owning and running a business.

Christopher Malan, the director of Business Week, said he hopes this program will teach students not only what it's like to run a business but also how to run it ethically.

"Our hope is that we can target some high school juniors and seniors who might be interested in business or who might be interested in starting their own business," Malan said. "We hope that we can give them the skills they need to do well and to be successful and that maybe we can impress upon them some leadership skills but also do that in the context of being community minded, and in the context of making ethical decisions and those types of things."

Nathan Mellor, the executive director of the Academy of Leadership and Liberty, said it's important to start impacting and teaching students at a young age.

"I think one of the important things is allowing the students to get together and think about important things at a younger age," Mellor said. "So, even when they're in high school as juniors and seniors, there are students out there who need the opportunity to have a program that really exercises those muscles. This camp will allow them to have a fun experience where they can learn how to put together commercials, learn how to do their business plan and have fun while they are also learning."

Malan doesn't want the student to be fearful of putting their ideas into practice.

"We want to give them a solid foundation so if they get out of this program they would kind of understand what you need to do to start a business," Malan said. "A lot of people have great ideas and have all the resources that they need, but they don't start businesses because they're afraid just because they don't know what to do."

Mellor said they are looking for students who are true leaders in their high school.

"In all of our programs, we are looking for students who show promise as leaders," Mellor said. "We are looking for a type of student that other students look to. One of the things we say to the counselors, and one of the things we even say in the application is send us your top 5 percent. What I mean by that is if the students in your class had to point to somebody in the classroom and say, 'If they say something, I'll believe it,' we want that kid. We want the kind of student who has the ability to speak to their classmates and has credibility with them."

According to Malan, Business Week is for a variety of people. He said this opportunity will help students decide if business really is something they would like to study or not.

"We're really looking for kids who are self motivated and who are creative and innovative," Malan said. "We're looking for the kind of people who like to take risks in a good way. I think we're looking for a pretty broad spectrum of students because there might be students who are thinking of business but aren't certain and we want to give them a sample and see if that's something they'd be interested in."

Assistant Director of Business Week Jennifer Gill, said the program offers a preview of college to the high school students that will help them make important decisions concerning their future.

"What I think is really unique about the program is it allows kids that are on their way to exploring college, degrees and majors, it just gives them a practical sense of what it means to study business—what is marketing and what is finance," Gill said. "It kind of gives them a classroom experience before they get to college so they can kind of decide if this is something they want to pursue as a major."

While at Business Week, students will be taking introduction courses on marketing, sales and management, but they will also be taught in a hands-on way as well.

"We really tried to incorporate a lot of hands-on activities so that the kids aren't just in class or just taking notes," Gill said. "One of the activities that we do is we let them create and invent their own product. They have to decide what that product does and how they want to sell it and who their audience is. Throughout the week they're going to be marketing that through different venues such as, making their own commercial or coming up with posters and signs and just learning how to advertise and what it means to take a basic idea and turn it into an actual product and then sell that throughout the week."

The students will also be competing with other teams at Business Week through online simulation.

"We're also doing an online simulation program that will allow them to create their own business online and then they'll compete against the other teams and groups who will be here at Business Week," Gill said. "It just gives them kind of a simulation of what it would be like to buy this product and to see how that sells."

Beyond the classroom and activities the students will be participating in, Business Week gives the students a chance to get to know possible future employers.

"The reason that is so significant is because these students are making contacts with people at the companies that some day they would like to be a part of," Mellor said. "It gives them an early opportunity to connect."

Oklahoma Christian senior Rollin Perrigo owns his own accounting firm, and said he has learned more through personal experience than he has in the classroom.

"You have to think outside of the box," Perrigo said. "You have to be very self motivating. You have to be willing to learn. I've learned so much more owning my own business than I learned in the accounting classes."

Mellor would like to see the curriculum broaden so more students have the opportunity to get a jump start on their future in the business world.

"What our real hope is that we can provide a format, a curriculum so that other places can do this as well," Mellor said. "We're trying to create something that is more reproducible so that places all across America can do programs like these, helping young people know more about the issues of their time."

Perrigo said Business Week is a great idea and thinks it would even benefit those in college. He said we have to start getting the youth to think long term about their futures and careers.

"I think it's great to put a spark in young people like that," Perrigo said. "When I was in high school, it was my dream to own a small business and now I've owned two. I think it's great because it gives them a lot of experience. We need to get them to think big picture, long term, ten years."

One of the most important factors in Business Week is teaching the students to be leaders with integrity.

"Business, obviously, is an important part of the future," Mellor said. "Being able to have young people who are prepared to lead their businesses in an ethical way, that have character, know how to communicate and resolve conflict, those are people who are going to really do something special."

Even though the program offers a lot of important information and experiences to the students, Malan said it will also be a lot of fun.

"As much as this stuff looks very serious, this thing is just a whole lot of fun," Malan said. "Beyond the fact the kids are going to learn some good information, these weeks are fun. Kids are going to establish some really great friendships with each other."

Assistant Director of Business Week Jennifer Gill said the program offers a preview of college to the high school students that will help them make important decisions concerning their future.
"What I think is really unique about the program is it allows kids that are on their way to exploring college, degrees and majors, it just gives them a practical sense of what it means to study business—what is marketing and what is finance," Gill said. "It kind of gives them a classroom experience before they get to college so they can kind of decide if this is something they want to pursue as a major."

While at Business Week, students will be taking introduction courses on marketing, sales and management, but they will also be taught in a hands-on way as well.

"We really tried to incorporate a lot of hands-on activities so that the kids aren't just in class or just taking notes," Gill said. "One of the activities that we do is we let them create and invent their own product. They have to decide what that product does and how they want to sell it and who their audience is. Throughout the week they're going to be marketing that through different venues such as, making their own commercial or coming up with posters and signs and just learning how to advertise and what it means to take a basic idea and turn it into an actual product and then sell that throughout the week."

The students will also be competing with other teams at Business Week through online simulation.

"We're also doing an online simulation program that will allow them to create their own business online and then they'll compete against the other teams and groups who will be here at Business Week," Gill said. "It just gives them kind of a simulation of what it would be like to buy this product and to see how that sells."

Beyond the classroom and activities the students will be participating in, Business Week gives the students a chance to get to know possible future employers.

"The reason that is so significant is because these students are making contacts with people at the companies that some day they would like to be a part of," Mellor said. "It gives them an early opportunity to connect."

Oklahoma Christian senior Rollin Perrigo owns his own accounting firm, and said he has learned more through personal experience than he has in the classroom.

"You have to think outside of the box," Perrigo said. "You have to be very self motivating. You have to be willing to learn. I've learned so much more owning my own business than I learned in the accounting classes."

Mellor would like to see the curriculum broaden so more students have the opportunity to get a jump start on their future in the business world.

"What our real hope is that we can provide a format, a curriculum so that other places can do this as well," Mellor said. "We're trying to create something that is more reproducible so that places all across America can do programs like these, helping young people know more about the issues of their time."

Perrigo said Business Week is a great idea and thinks it would even benefit those in college.

He said we have to start getting the youth to think long term about their futures and careers.

"I think it's great to put a spark in young people like that," Perrigo said. "When I was in high school, it was my dream to own a small business and now I've owned two. I think it's great because it gives them a lot of experience. We need to get them to think big picture, long term, ten years."

One of the most important factors in Business Week is teaching the students to be leaders with integrity.

"Business, obviously, is an important part of the future," Mellor said. "Being able to have young people who are prepared to lead their businesses in an ethical way, that have character, know how to communicate and resolve conflict, those are people who are going to really do something special."

Even though the program offers a lot of important information and experiences to the students, Malan said it will also be a lot of fun.

"As much as this stuff looks very serious, this thing is just a whole lot of fun," Malan said. "Beyond the fact the kids are going to learn some good information, these weeks are fun. Kids are going to establish some really great friendships with each other."

Business Week introduction courses will begin June 15-19.


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