This story originally appeared in the spring 2014 Harker Quarterly.
After hitting the ground running in the fall, the business and entrepreneurship department and DECA chapter have hardly stopped to take a breath. The B.E. department is launching a slate of ambitious programs in the spring and the DECA chapter has been traveling and competing as conference season comes into its own.
The B.E. department is set to launch CareerConnect in the spring. The program will unify three separate pillars under one umbrella – mentorship, professionalism and panels – with the goal of preparing Harker students to excel in the workplace.
The first of the three pillars of CareerConnect is the mentorship program that will pair more than 100 sophomores and juniors with mentors in their desired fields to receive career advice. Over the course of the school year, they will meet with these mentors multiple times to learn about their mentors’ career paths and how they can begin shaping their own.
The second of the three pillars, professionalism, involves attending and networking at exclusive conferences and events in various venues across the valley, including the Stanford Venture Lab and Computer History Museum. This will also include the hosting of a series of professional workshops where students will learn interview tips, networking skills and how to construct engaging resumes and LinkedIn profiles to help them jump to the top of the stack when applying for positions. Sarah Bean, grade 11, says, “Contacting and confirming the … speakers on our fast-approaching deadline has been the most challenging aspect [of starting the program].”
Addressing the final pillar of CareerConnect is the career panel series that kicked off in March. The series will bring professionals from the law, medical, business, computer science and engineering disciplines to Harker to present on their fields and entertain students’ questions as they decide which fields to pursue. Bean says she and the other five students coordinating the CareerConnect program are “working hard to assure our career panel month is a success.”
The B.E. department sent nine students and department chair Juston Glass to the Stanford Venture Lab in January to hear from five entrepreneurs under the age of 30 who are running successful companies. Chirag Aswani, grade 11, said, “I was able to get … strong insight on the process of starting … a company, including the risks. Out of all the events I [have] attended [this year], the Stanford event is by far the best.” Before and after the panel and Q&A, the students were given time to network and meet with other aspiring entrepreneurs at the event.
The Harker DECA chapter, which started the year with community outreach and exciting new programs, has continued its rapid pace as the year is hitting its halfway point. The Stock Market Game, run by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), has concluded with impressive results. Three student teams finished in the top 25 in the nation. The game included a friendly competition between students and faculty teams which, as Glass relates, the students “dominated.” The combined virtual earnings of all three of these teams approached nearly $100,000 in three months.
SIFMA also hosts the national essay competition InvestWrite. Thousands of students analyzed an investment opportunity and submitted portfolio allocation plans for short- and long-term returns. Manthra Panchapakesan, grade 11, was ranked first in the state of California and third in the country for grades 9-12.
DECA students engaged in a different kind of competition this year when they took part in the Virtual Business Challenge. The challenge required students to pick one of four business categories (sports, restaurants, retail or personal finance) and run a virtual business in that industry. Once the students picked their industry, they were challenged to run their virtual business over the course of a simulated year, with the goal of maximizing their profits. Competing in the restaurant category, David Zhu and Peter Wu, both grade 9, placed first in the Western region and third in the nation. When asked about the event, Zhu said, “Restaurant appealed to me most since it was more small-scaled and feasible.” When asked if he was considering translating his talents into becoming a young restaurateur, he replied, “[It] is always a possibility, but I believe the simulation gave me a preview on running all sorts of businesses.”
The chapter continued its busy year when Glass and 90 students made the trek to Anaheim to attend the California DECA conference. Along with nearly 2,000 other students, the Harker chapter competed in 35 events over the course of three
long days. Of the 35 events in which Harker students competed, 32 competitors finished in the top 10 and 13 resulted in top four finishes, thereby qualifying for the international conference competition. These accomplishments proved strong enough to make Harker No. 1 among all schools in California with enrollment under 2,000, fourth overall, out of 70 schools that participate in California DECA.
While the chapter as a whole performed extremely well, chapter president Monica Thukral, grade 12, was singled out as California DECA’s student of the year from more than 4,500 members. While her achievements as a part of DECA are numerous, she says she is “most proud of how I have contributed to the chapter’s growth at Harker and within Silicon Valley,” and that “DECA has made me a much more confident and responsible person.”
The DECA organization as a whole challenged each individual chapter to grow by completing campaigns across multiple categories: DECA promotion, community service, global entrepreneurship week and recruiting. Glass said he was “extremely proud” of the DECA chapter for being the only chapter in California to complete all four campaigns and receive recognition from the international DECA organization.
While the winter has not brought California enough rain, it has brought more than enough conferences, activities and new programs to keep the students of the business and entrepreneurship department and DECA chapter busy. This trend will continue to the end of the year and through the summer as monthly podcasts continue, CareerConnect kicks off, Harker hosts the TEDx conference and sponsors a Wharton/ Harker summer business program, and the DECA chapter continues to travel and compete at the international conference.
Ninja Innovation and Start Up Culture Conference Outlines Strategies
In mid-February, seven business and entrepreneurship department students traveled to the Ninja Innovation and Startup Culture Conference at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View to hear Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, discuss his book “Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World’s Most Successful Businesses.”
The evening began with refreshments, where students networked with business professionals.
During the program, Robert Scoble, a tech evangelist, moderated the discussion with Shapiro, who spoke about his experiences with the Consumer Electronics Show and in the business world, focusing on disruption, determination, discipline and passion. Shapiro shared his knowledge and described key emerging trends that are helping direct startup “ninja innovation” in this competitive landscape.
“Gary was great, very casual. He was very open about his opinions and not as political in his words as you might expect,” noted Glenn Reddy, grade 11.
“The Computer History Museum is a great location and, thanks to the Silicon Valley Bank, there was a huge spread of food for all attendees,” added Reddy. “It was great to see Harker’s B.E. students in action; I saw students controlling conversations with various executives around the room. Harker students left an impression at the event and made a great showing.”
This report provided by Shannon Hong, grade 10, director of PR for Harker DECA
Students Attend ‘Dress for Success’ Presentation by Men’s Wearhouse
As February wrapped up, business-oriented student groups brought representatives from Men’s Wearhouse to the upper school to discuss how students should dress in professional environments.
“The presentation was informational, entertaining and useful, because I now know what to wear to an interview,” said Kevina Xiao, grade 10.
Sponsored by Harker DECA, Career Connect, and the business and entrepreneurship department, more than 60 students attended, receiving valuable tips and guidelines to follow when dressing for job interviews and other formal events. They also learned how to tie ties and other necessary wardrobe skills.
“It helped me decide what to wear for interviews and how a simple blazer can be used for various events,” said Chirag Aswani, grade 11.
The Men’s Wearhouse representatives not only instructed the attending students how to dress well but also gave advice on how to network and converse in formal settings. In addition, they talked about other valuable life skills that would help students to become more professionally responsible.
This report provided by Sophia Luo, grade 10, intern to director of PR for Harker DECA