Randy Woods – Seattle Times
High school gives us the basic knowledge we need to succeed in life. But many graduates still enter college or the workforce without the networking, leadership and interpersonal skills they will need to land a good job and advance their careers.
Perhaps it’s time to send these future professionals to camp. Washington Business Week camp, that is.
Since 1976, this not-for-profit “business camp for teens” has been holding a series of week-long summer retreats, from June through August, at college campuses around Washington state and Alaska. More than 60,000 students have graduated from these summer classes to date, where they participate in immersive, real-world simulations of businesses and receive guidance and mentoring from local business leaders.
Kari Quaas, a seasonal job specialist at CoolWorks.com and member of the WBW board, has fond memories of attending the Business Week camp in 1989 at Central Washington University. “I met not only business professionals, but students from all over the state of Washington,” she says.
In some cases, students come from other countries. “[WBW] helped me strengthen myself in being a leader,” says Stevenson Pierre, a graduate of Louverture Cleary School in Haiti. Since taking part in the 2009 WBW, he is now a commercial representative at Digiprint. “My country really needs more people who have experience in leadership, so I hope when I get back to Haiti I will be able to share with others what I have learned,” he says.
In 2009 and 2010, UW student Gillian Whelan attended WBW retreats at Pacific Lutheran University and Central Washington University, as well as a special Business Week program held in Gdynia, Poland. “I am now comfortable speaking in front of a large group of people,” she says. “Not only can I read financial reports and write a business plan, I have made new friends I will keep for a lifetime in a group of people I have only known for a week.”
For those interested in supporting WBW, the organization will be holding a “Takin’ Care of Business” fundraising breakfast on Oct. 9 at the Four Seasons Hotel downtown. WBW is also seeking adult mentors to lead the students or to judge their work at one of the summer programs. More details can be found here. Registration for the 2015 schedule of summer classes will open Wednesday at the site’s registration page.
“Business Week has taught me to step out of my comfort zone, take risks and take responsibility for my actions,” Whelan says. Sounds like the start of a good resume.