Dos Palos High School students are learning real-work skills in virtual business environment

12/29/2013 7:32 PM

12/29/2013 7:34 PM

In years past, students concentrated on academics during their school years before jumping into the workaday world or pursuing career choices in college.

But now a number of Dos Palos High School students are getting a jump on their careers by getting a better understanding of business and the workplace before for they walk across the stage to get their diplomas.

These juniors and seniors are involved in the virtual enterprise program run by Dos Palos High School teacher Jenny Hunger. Some of her former students are already entrepreneurs. Others gained employment right out of high school.

“With an emphasis on college and career readiness, virtual enterprise is an in-school, live, global business simulation that offers students a competitive edge through project-based collaborative learning and the development of 21st century skills in entrepreneurship, global business, problem-solving, communication, personal finance and technology,” Hunger said.

Many of her students came into the class as typical high school students, but by the end of the first semester they understand the work ethic that’s required in the real world, Hunger said. They enter her classes expecting to have fun but quickly discover hard work is also involved.

“These kids love the hands-on activities and doing something they can physically see,” Hunger said. “This year, our business is an ice cream company that specializes in catering. I try to have the students be creative as to their business choices. They need to go where they can to make a lot of money in the short period of our school year and also be innovative.”

Wayne Hogue, the chief executive officer for the class, said the class is preparing him for his future in business by giving him hands-on experience.

Kiauna Conger, vice president of human resources for the class, also praised the program for its real-world approach. “It’s a great experience; every student should have this opportunity,” she said.

Hunger has been teaching virtual enterprise for four years and also teaches computer accounting and business office professions. Most of the basic concepts of business haven’t changed over the years, but technology has.

Virtual enterprise is part of a global network of student-run businesses in more than 40 countries. Its goal is to transform high school students into independent-thinking business professionals and their classrooms into offices.

“In addition to giving students a head start on jobs and careers, virtual enterprise reinforces students’ academic skills and achievement, reignites their interest in education while raising their desire to graduate and pursue lifelong learning,” Hunger said.

Hunger said her students have some great ideas and it’s fun to see what they come up with. They use their imagination to design company logos, commercials, business cards and fliers.

She is seeking more business sponsors to provide monetary assistance for the competitions they attend, along with people to speak to classes and offer professional advice.

Earlier this month Dos Palos virtual enterprise students attended the 15th annual California International Trade Fair in Bakersfield. About 2,500 students from 110 countries participated.

Hogue was selected for the second round in the job interview category, and Conger and Danielle Vause competed in the human resource scenario presentation competition, coming in second in their class. Hogue and Ednna DelRio competed in the sales presentation competition.

The class as a whole competed in salesmanship and placed fourth. Students also received an award for business professionalism.

“Through developing and managing businesses, students not only stay in school, but gain experience in problem-solving, decision-making, communication, collaboration, technology, and accessing, using and analyzing information, 21st century skills that are keys to success in both college and careers,” Hunger said.

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