Cupertino: Incoming Monta Vista students get a crash course in business
By Matt Wilson
The article below was first published in the Augsut 18, 2011 edition of the Cupertino Courier.
More than 70 incoming Monta Vista High School students chose to get down to business last week, even before the school year starts Aug. 22. Future Matadors packed the school library Aug. 8-12 for the first Monta Vista Business Boot Camp. The rigorous week-long program prepared students with a head for business for their four years at the school.
Students received crash courses in public relations, networking, event planning, leadership strategies, recruitment and how to dress for success. Attendees also engaged in role playing and practiced extemporaneous speaking. Attendees were all previously students at Kennedy and Lawson middle schools, Monta Vista’s feeder schools. The goal was to get students focused on business before the rigors of a full
year of school sets in on campus.
“We wanted to have them for five days, where they were strictly ours, before they competed with other classes,” said Carl Schmidt, a Monta Vista business teacher. The students worked in groups as well as individually, applying their new business world skills to create business plans and analyze case studies. Attendees presented their plans and ideas to venture capitalists and camp supervisors.
The camp was also an opportunity for students to become familiar with the events they will compete in and opportunities to take advantage of in the upcoming school year. Strategies, tips and plans for how to win future competitions were shared. The camp was hosted by Monta Vista High School’s National Technical Honor Society and Distributive Education Clubs of America, known throughout the campus simply as DECA. Students who participated received a one-year membership in DECA.
Monta Vista alum Hung-Jen Wu helped form the National Technical Honor Society last year as well as the camp. The exclusive honors society pools students from the top 10 percent of the school’s business department. Officers from the clubs served as camp counselors and prepped attendees for a final competition at the end of the program.
The camp also helped students get a jump start on the upcoming school year. Business plans that were developed during the business camp will be refined during the year and used during competitions in January, Wu said. Wu, who will leave for George Washington University in the fall, believes that the business program at Monta Vista has achieved the same prestige that science has attained at Monta Vista’s friendly rival Lynbrook High School.
The demand for the $139 camp was overwhelming. There was an original cap of 60 students, but organizers managed to accommodate an extra 13 students. Wu said there was an informational meeting for parents at the library prior to registration back in May. More than 134 people attended and immediately bought into the camp’s goals.
“I literally saw parents whip out their checkbooks right after [the meeting] ended,” he said. Schmidt said the inaugural camp’s popularity was partly linked to the excitement of immigrant parents. Many of those parents want to see their children participate in a program that goes right to the essence of American entrepreneurship and opportunity.
“They see that is a great opportunity that many Americans might take for granted,” he said. Schmidt also hoped the camp reminded students that, unlike some engineering or technical skills, business skills never go out of style and the time to innovate is now–when they are young. “It’s not all about learning how to make money; it’s about learning how to deal with people,” he said. “The best time to fail is when you are young. The only barriers they have are the barriers they impose upon themselves.”