Nearly 200 high school students will storm campus this June to participate in the second of the annual Washington Business Week Summer Programs to be held at PLU.
Taking place from June 24 to 30, the program teaches high school students about business and leadership, along with preparing them for the workforce, said Megan Rubie, the program’s volunteer coordinator. Through hands-on learning, students are exposed to what life is like in the business world.
“It’s all about experiential learning,” Rubie said. “The more the students can take over that part of it, the better off everyone is. The high schoolers learn faster if they do it.”
For the program, students are divided into “companies,” which include eight to 10 students and an advisor. Advisors are volunteers from the local business community who guide students through the week.
Students also attend seminars and lectures by local businesspeople on a variety of topics. The program culminates in a trade show event, where students market a new product and convince volunteer judges to “invest” in their company.
The program is currently seeking volunteers to serve as advisors and judges, and it is particularly interested in having more PLU experts involved, Rubie said. Faculty, staff and students with a background in business are encouraged to apply.
“We’re looking for people with any professional experience or business knowledge,” Rubie said.
Advisors spend the week working one-on-one with a student company, and the position requires a full seven-day commitment. Advisors are expected to serve as mentors and role models, helping the students run a computer-simulated business.
The program strives to have a diverse group of advisors, representing all aspects of the local business community. Larger companies, such as State Farm and Boeing, consistently donate employees to the program, Rubie said.
“The most powerful thing we can do is show these kids what business opportunities are available in their neighborhood,” Rubie said.
Unlike advisors, being a judge only requires a three-and-a-half-hour commitment on Friday, June 29. Judges participate in two events: the presentations by each company about the decisions they made in the computer simulation and a trade show.
At the trade show, each company sets up a booth that displays a new product they developed during the program. Students apply what they learned in the program to market and persuade the judges to invest “Business Week Bucks” to support the product.
Teri Moore, development director of major gifts, served as a judge at last year’s program.
“I was very impressed with the quality of the presentations and the students and the knowledge,” she said. She said she asked tough questions, but the students were never stumped.
Moore said it’s important for the program to have a “diverse cadre” of judges because the students benefit from being exposed to different perspectives.
This year marks the first time the core program will be expanded to offer industry-specific tracks in business, healthcare, construction and accounting. Additionally, PLU’s event features an advanced program for those students who have previously participated in the program. The advanced program gives students an in-depth look at business planning, entrepreneurship and business communications.
Washington Business Week started in 1976 at Central Washington University in Walla Walla. It eventually expanded to Gonzaga University in Spokane, Western Washington University in Bellingham, and most recently, to PLU.
To learn more about the program and volunteer opportunities, visit www.wbw.org.