I recently volunteered as a “marketing consultant” for the 2008 Ohio Business Week (OBW) program at Youngstown State University. This is by 5th year participating in the program that will shape the next generation of business professionals. So what is OBW?
Ohio Business Week (OBW) is a weeklong summer program that brings a diverse group of high school students and established members of the business community together to translate textbook business principles into “real world” business practices. Since 1988 OBW has given more than 5,000 high school students the opportunity to experience entrepreneurship and explore all facets of business in a way unmatched in the high school setting. By attending OBW, students emerge from OBW with the skills necessary to succeed from the classroom to the boardroom.
Ohio Business Week Foundation Founder Ron Nischwitz was former Major League Baseball pitcher for the Detroit Tigers (’61, ’62, ’65) and the Cleveland Indians (’63) turned entrepreneur, Nischwitz understands the importance of having a fair balance of academics and athletics.
“Today’s youth tend to get caught up in the world of sports and the hype of going pro,” said Nischwitz. “Students need to understand that there is less than a one percent chance for an athlete to make it to the pros. A student is guaranteed success after highs school if they pursue higher education through hands-on learning experiences like Ohio Business Week.”
By attending programs like Ohio Business Week, students can show prospective colleges that they are serious about their education and their future. OBW is not just for business-minded students. The skills taught throughout the week can be used in any profession students choose to pursue after they graduate from college.
During OBW, students are assigned to a “company” with 10-12 other participants. Under the guidance of a loaned business executive, each company brainstorms ideas for an imaginary start-up business venture and embarks on the Emerging Entrepreneur Project (EEP). Each company elects officers; researchers and writes a business, financial and marketing plan; constructs a trade show display; creates a web page/magazine ad and radio/TV commercials.
Participants engage in interactive activities designed to teach fundamental business concepts and assist companies in completing their EEP. At the conclusion of the program educational scholarships are awarded to students who display exceptional leadership, entrepreneurship and community service.
Bruce Felber listens to company pitch
In addition to the EEP, participants attend presentations given by several business professionals. I started my involvement 5 years ago as a presenter on marketing disciplines and example of campaigns. I demonstrated through brainstorming techniques they can create a marketing and promotion plan for their products. Over the last 4 years I donated my time as a “marketing consultant” where the companies present their product or service and engage me on how to market. Many times they just need a push or challenge and other times they need to focus their tactics and campaigns.
Many loaned executives share their business expertise and build awareness about career trends and employment opportunities. Also, participants attend seminars that emphasize financial literacy, business ethics and communications. Finally, participants tour distribution and manufacturing centers to learn how raw materials are manufactured and how manufactured goods reach the marketplace.
I would encourage any parent, teacher, high school student or business executive to look into this wonderful program. Visit http://www.ohiobusinessweek.org/ for more information. I challenge my colleagues to get involved with OBW or similar programs.