I had the awesome experience of being a “Company Advisor” (CA) at WBW last week. What is Business Week? Read on…

This is the second year in a row that I have had the ability to go to Washington Business Week as a Company Advisor. Washington Business Week is a week long camp for high school students where they get to learn about business. This camp is pretty hard core – like six straight 14 hour days – and the kids always love it.

The students get the opportunity to live on a college campus for a week: sleeping in the dorms, eating the food, using the recreational facilities, and basically getting a chance to live the college life. There are four camps across Washington each summer (Western Washington University, Central Washington University, Gonzaga University, and Pacific Lutheran University) and the program has a sister-city relationship with Poland, where they do four programs as well. In addition to traditional Business Week, there are several extra programs the students can choose to participate in Healthcare Week, Manufacturing Week, Energy Week, Agri-Business Week, and Advanced Business Week (for kids that have attended camp at least once before).

The kids that come out get placed into groups of 10-12 students (a company) and are assigned a Company Advisor (adult volunteer from the business community) who oversees their progress and can answer any questions they have. They do a college-level computer simulation that allows them to make business decisions and compete against the other companies, create a new product and present it at a trade show, do a stockholder presentation (to members of the business community) and have fun along the way.

It is awesome to see the kids grow throughout the week. They become a strong team, deal with conflict, and think about work in a way they haven’t had to before in school. The schedule is pretty rigid, but the kids get to have more independence on their projects – adults don’t hold their hands. It is really their project and their Company Advisor helps out, but won’t force them to finish the project. It is also good management experience for the CA (if you can manage 12 high schoolers for a week you can manage anyone!) and that is one of the reasons so many companies send their employees out to volunteer. Boeing, for example, believes so much in the program that they send more than 40 employees each year to volunteer and pay for all their participation, lodging, etc.

I had the opportunity to do Advanced Business Week this year, which was really interesting. The kids were great (we won first place overall for Advanced – woohoo!) and we had a lot of fun. Look into this non profit. If you have teens – send them. It is super affordable. They work with families and it is $900 or less for a week (including your kids lodging, food and everything). And, they get to learn, make networking connections and have a super awesome time! Speakers come out from Boeing, Microsoft, McKinstry, and more.

If you have questions about the program, I’d love to tell you more, or you can visit their website. They are super awesome people. There are 3 more camps this summer and I am sure they have some space available if you want to send someone!

Melina Young

My name is Melina Young and I am the director of marketing at Verity Credit Union. I love everything to do with marketing, advertising, public relations and social media – especially all the research that goes into making a product or service really work for our members and making sure the right people hear about it. In addition to my time spent marketing, I have a blog and write about celiac disease, which I was diagnosed with in 2010. Basically, I can’t eat any of those foods we all love that are made with wheat, barley or rye.

I have also recently started running and completed my first 5k in 2011. Some people may not know that I used to do a lot of acting, dancing and singing in my life. I was in a Nike commercial with Gary Payton in junior high (if anyone ever finds the footage please send it my way!) and I used to compete as an opera singer in high school. I almost majored in musical theater in college, but I’m very glad with my decision to study marketing!

Leave a Reply