This summer, students from all across Alaska will experience what it takes to run a business.
From July 18-25, 65 high school students will meet at Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage to participate in Alaska Business Week, a weeklong learning event organized by the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce.
During the week, the students will live on campus and learn about business leadership, teamwork and other skills required for running a successful business.
Nicole Schuh, Alaska Business Week program director, said the event allows students to use teamwork to accomplish two major project competitions — a business simulation and the creation of a product or service.
For the first task, the students will simulate selling a product for several fiscal quarters.
“They need to make decisions about the kind of production they need to make, how much marketing they need to do and if they need to hire a sales staff,” Schuh said. “If they’re not doing well in some quarters, do they need to fire some sales staff?”
She said that having students get first hand experience doing unpleasant things such as firing an employee is important.
“They feel a little more than just the numbers on the page,” Schuh said. “They have to actually realize that letting someone go isn’t so easy.”
Schuh said that the winner isn’t necessarily the group that has the most profitable simulation. She said that judges take into consideration how students react to poor quarters and other unforeseen events.
The second project allows the students to come up with a product or service. Schuh said that the ideas don’t necessarily need to be “market ready.” Last year, she said participants imagined a jacket that keeps people warm when it’s cool, and cool when it’s warm.
At the end of the week, the participants present their products at a trade show in front of judges, who vote by investing fake money, Schuh said. Students can garner support for their ideas by creating and distributing flyers and business cards.
“The students really have to sell their product,” Schuh said.
When the students aren’t working on the two major projects, they participate in several team-building exercises, and have the chance to meet with some of Alaska’s business leaders.
“We really want the students that come to it to interact with as many business professionals as they can,” Schuh said. “We want to show them success stories and give them resources they can connect with after.”
Not only will participants learn about the corporate world, they will also earn two credits through the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Schuh said obtaining the credits has two easy conditions — participate and don’t get sent home.
The weeklong event has gained support from people on the Kenai Peninsula. Schuh said that the event, which has been held in the state for six years, usually attracts a couple peninsula students each year.
The Soldotna Chamber of Commerce has also donated money to the program in order to allow more students to participate.
“It’s a cool program,” said Ryan Kapp, president board president for the Soldotna Chamber. “We really support it and our future leaders.”
Schuh said this year’s program is already full, however some students usually cancel due to scheduling conflicts. She advises students that want to participate to sign up on the waiting list.
For more information, go to www.alaskachamber.com/abw.