Waupaca students learn about business
By Angie Landsverk
Waupaca Middle School students learned what it takes to rebrand a company when they participated in Mini Business World.
The business and entrepreneurship program for students took place Friday, Feb. 5, at the Waupaca Ale House.
About 180 eighth graders spent the school day developing new products, logos and mission statements.
The WMC Foundation, an educational division of the state chamber of commerce, produced the program.
Wisconsin Public Service, Waupaca Foundry and the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce, sponsored it here.
“It gives them an overview of what it’s like to own a business,” said Terri Schulz, who is the president of Waupaca’s chamber.
After being randomly placed in groups, students learned what it is like to work with other people who have different personalities, she said.
They represented 25 different companies and named chief executive officers, chief financial officers, as well as marketing and communications professionals.
They chose to create products for people the age of their grandparents instead of products for teens.
“They are asked to take over a sleepy company in need of new ownership and branding and to come up with products that solve problems or prevent problems,” said Steve Benzschawel, director of Business World.
One team came up with the idea of a closed application called “FamCon.”
“We kind of thought how some families don’t have grandparents near them,” said Cadie Ash. “With this closed app, they could post videos, Skype. It would be closed to the families. They could look at it when they want. It doesn’t disappear.”
Paige Swanson said as they talked about technology and how it will continue to develop, their team realized how technology could be used to connect families.
Alianna Satorius was the company’s CEO.
“We thought about our own qualities and personalities,” she said in explaining how they decided which of them would take which roles.
Michael Fenske helped write the mission and vision statements, and Claire Jacquet found it to be a good experience.
“It teaches you how to work together,” she said.
Benzschawel said, “It’s a great chance for kids to take what they do in the classroom and put it into a hands-on workshop.”
He hoped the students learned a little bit more about business and became more comfortable with the ideas of networking and public speaking.
The day ended with students from each of the 25 companies making presentations.
“Everyone votes on who was the best company presentation,” Schulz said. “This generation grew up with everyone winning. That is not the real world. It is really life lessons, as well as how a company works.”
They encouraged students to wear business casual attire for the day, and Benzschawel also talked to the students about the differences among people from various generations, as well as about their digital footprints.
Before he hires someone, he checks the person’s social media snapshot, cautioning the students to think about how what they post online may affect them when they apply to college and for jobs.
Benzschawel said what some people put on social media is not always a true representations of who they are.
“Don’t hold yourself up to impossible expectations,” he said. “Don’t be fooled by it. Be the best version of yourselves.”