High school students across the island are running their own businesses, trading and competing with one another – virtually, that is.
“For students who want to go into business, this is the best experience,” said Angela Wu, a junior from Herricks.
The Virtual Enterprises International program held its Long Island Regional Conference and Exhibition on Monday and Tuesday at Farmingdale State College. Sixty-five high schools participated, including Great Neck South, Herricks High School and Floral Park Memorial High School.
In the program, students create their own businesses from scratch.
The students break up into different departments, including accounting, and marketing and sales.
Iris Blanc, executive director of Virtual Enterprises International, said the program allows students to develop college ready skills at the same time as workplace skills.
“[They’re] selling, speaking to people, presenting, marketing,” Blanc said. “All the things they would do someplace in their lives they’re getting the opportunity to experience here.”
The real-world simulation is appreciated by the students.
Bhavesh Patel, a junior from Herricks, said he has been to trade shows with this father and this event was just like those.
Patel and Wu represent two separate teams Herricks had at the conference.
Patel’s class created Home Plate, a healthy meal subscription service. Wu’s class created Pack’d, a customizable baggage company.
“I’m really interested in business and this is an overall cool class to learn how companies work,” Patel, who is the marketing director for Home Plate, said. “Half the stuff I never knew actually happens in a business.”
The marketing teams for the classes create custom websites, banners, brochures, business cards and other company merchandise to give out. Patel gave Blank Slate Media a custom Home Plate pen.
The finance team’s work is just as real as the work in marketing.
Wu, who is an accountant for Pack’d, said she had to help her department do “everything a real company would have to do,” including apply for loans and balance budgets.
The different school’s teams do business with each other virtually throughout the year. At events like the expo at Farmingdale, the students can interact in person and buy and sell from each other.
“This trade show is one of our biggest events for every company every year,” Wu said. “It’s one of our highest revenue sources, as well … and it’s a great way to introduce yourself to many different companies all at once to get a brief overview and then make a lot of sales.”
Students have a virtual budget of $1,000 to spend at the event, and teachers have $5,000, Patel said.
Wu said she has taken other business classes, including accounting, marketing and financial management, but said this one is the most immediately applicable to what she wants to do in the future.
“It feels very real,” Wu said.
The program is an outgrowth of a New York City Department of Education initiative, Blanc said.
When she was an assistant principal at a high school, Blanc said, she was sent to Austria to see the program out there.
In Austria and Germany, the program is a mandatory exit class for high school students so that they’re “workforce ready,” Blanc said.
“This is really that experiential and applied learning,” Blanc said. “They often wonder why they have English, why they have math. This kind of sheds a light on why you need those classes.”
In addition to presenting a booth at the expo, during the conference each team has to send a handful of students to present a business plan in front of judges.
Wu and Patel both said they want to go into business and finance in the future. They said the class has helped them prepare for their future careers.
For Lindsay Adomaitis, a junior at Floral Park Memorial High School, the class has opened her mind to the idea of going into business.
Adomaitis said she enrolled in the course because she had space in her schedule and her guidance counselor recommended it.
“I really liked it in the beginning,” Adomaitis said. “It was really interesting to me so I stuck with it.”
Adomaitis is a marketing employee for her class’s Zaropa business. She described Zaropa as an online-based subscription clothing company.
Great Neck South, which presented on Monday, had a company called Vend the Rules.
The competition has numerous awards for different categories based on the students’ materials, their presentations and their booths.
Great Neck South won three silver awards, one for company branding, one for the employee handbook and one for sales materials.
Home Plate won two gold awards, one for e-commerce website and one for video commercial.
Zaropa won two silver awards, one for company newsletter and one for salesmanship.