Summer Business Boot Camp Equips High School Students with Faith-Informed Leadership Skills
by Kristina Garvelink (M.S. ’15)
This summer marked Cornerstone University's second annual Summer Business Boot Camp. Four traditional undergraduate faculty members led business-related, hands-on sessions for high school students. In addition to exploring topics such as global business and culture, integration of faith and business, social entrepreneurship and presentation skills, the three-day learning experience gave attendees practice using the Lean Canvas model for ideating and developing a mock business concept.
Taught from a faith-based perspective and through the lens of a Christian worldview, the Business Boot Camp aimed to challenge and grow campers' perspective of both business and leadership.
"We hope to demystify the process of becoming an entrepreneur by providing students a proven process to bring business ideas to market," Chris Loiselle, assistant professor of business, said. "By requiring students to work together, we hope that they begin to learn the value of teamwork and involving others with various skills into the business building process. Also, by integrating an international flavor, we hope to expand students' perspectives about the way in which new, innovative ideas can be both found and exploited. Finally, by having them present their idea with the hopes of attracting capital, we hope to introduce them to ways in which they would need to fund their business idea."
Beginning on Wednesday, Aug. 1 and concluding on Friday, Aug. 3, Cornerstone welcomed 12 attendees to this year's camp; the participants represented 10 area high schools. From interactive field experiences at Steelcase's Innovation Center and Grand Valley State University's Global Trade Center to on-campus presentations by local business owners, students learned the teamwork skills necessary to identify a problem, develop a solution and pitch a business concept to fellow classmates, parents and judges.
"The skills I learned will definitely be put to use somewhere in my career, and I can't wait to use them," Caleb Buist, one of this year's camp participants, said. "The interactive way in which the lessons were taught made it possible to enjoy every minute. This experience was the highlight of my summer, and I wish I could do it more often."
As a central theme throughout the camp's practical business content, university faculty led intentional group discussions about how to articulate the connection between business and the redemptive story of creation.
"We believe that God has called us to care for His creation and to be excellent stewards of the resources that He has provided," April VanPutten, assistant professor of business, said. "We are God's resources, so using our creative and innovative minds as entrepreneurs is one way of being a good steward. We may not all end up working for a Christian business, so it's important to understand that we need to live out our faith in Christ in our actions and in the way we treat others."
Dr. Rachel Hammond, chair of the Business Division and assistant professor of business, concluded, "We believe that by preparing students to be competent entrepreneurs in today's world, they will be better able to provide goods and services that will help our communities to flourish and to provide meaningful work for others."
The Summer Business Boot Camp 2019 is scheduled to be held on Wednesday, July 31 to Friday, Aug. 2. Registration is open to high school students.