Students gain business experience at camp

Lux DeMoss, Staff Reporter

Summer is most commonly known as a time for sleeping in and enjoying free time, but for some it is an opportunity to try new things. Waking up at 8:00 am, staying busy all day by learning about business, having discussions, or working on a project, and not going to sleep until 10:00 pm that night are common activities for students at Ohio Business Week (OBW).

OBW, a week long program that takes place at Ohio University, teaches participants more about business and helps  them become immersed in the business world.

BJ Duckworth, the adult advisor for one of the companies and District Sales Manager for Coca Cola Bottling Company Consolidated, discussed how the program started and talked about the program that inspired OBW.

“The program was founded by Ron Nischwitz, a native of Dayton Ohio. Ron started OBW after visiting the Washington State Business Week program nearly 30 years ago. He returned to Ohio and started the program that has seen great change during its life and is now considered one of the best business week programs in the country,” Duckworth said.

“I went through the program when it was at Youngstown State University in 2003. The program had such an impact on my life that I have returned every year since,” Duckworth said.

Drew Gentner, a junior at Revere, explained what participants do at OBW and gave a brief overview of the program.

“Ohio Business Week is a week-long business camp where you work with a team of other high schoolers to create and develop a product. Throughout the week you work with your team on researching and developing the product as well as creating a business plan, marketing plan and figuring out the financials of your product. At the end of the week you present your product to the judges who then select a winner for the best Overall Emerging Entrepreneur project,” Gentner said.

Adam Webb, the chief financial officer of his company, Company I, and high school student, talked about the program and explained what the program offers to students who are interested in going into the business field.

“Ohio Business Week is a great program for anybody going into business for their future occupation. This program offers presentations from real business owners and an experience that lets you work with making a product and  selling it to potential investors,” Webb said.

Duckworth talked about what the experience of working with so many high school students that are passionate about business was like and how the experience was rewarding to him.

“It is a challenge each year. When the students come in they are all a little nervous and unsure of what the week will bring. We get placed in a company of 12-16 people so it is challenging to make sure all personalities mesh well. We use icebreakers and some bonding techniques to make sure that we can bring down some of the wall that we all naturally put up,” Duckworth said.

Duckworth also mentioned what he believes is the most important part of the program.

“In my opinion the most important thing about OBW is that it brings a diverse group of individuals together to work on this project while allowing them to get insight into the business world and life on a college campus. These insights can be invaluable when it comes to deciding a college major or picking a university to attend. Personally I believe, especially in our politically charged climate, that bringing together students from diverse backgrounds and helping to bring down some of the boundaries between them in a work like setting has a great impact on their future in any career field or in their future life as an adult,” Duckworth said.

Webb gave his take on the most important aspect of OBW.

“The most important thing about this program would have to be the bond you create with your fellow co-workers. You’re thrown into this auditorium and assigned to a group of random people you don’t know and by the time the week’s over, you don’t want to leave. Despite the rushed planning and constant work on the project, the friends I made and the times I had with other people stood out the most to me,” Webb said.

Webb also mentioned how the program impacted his perception of  business and his interest in the field.

“Coming from a person who didn’t know much about the business world at all, this program really educated me. It taught me the risks you’ll have to make and the financial roller coaster you’ll be riding. Overall the program impacted me in a great way and it opened my mind to the world of business,” Webb said.

OBW is only a week long business camp, but high schoolers can apply new skills they learned to the real world. The program directed towards high school students interested in business, entrepreneurship, and learning more about the field helps teach participants about creating a product that solves a real world business issue.