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Project GRAD: Akron’s CBA Business Boot-Camp


Dr. Deborah Owens, Associate Professor of Marketing in the College of Business Administration (“CBA”) at The University of Akron, coordinated a two-week long business boot-camp from June 13 – June 24, 2011 for rising junior and senior Buchtel High School students.  The focus for the camp was to investigate business careers while marketing The University of Akron’s CBA to these aspiring students. 

While the students were presented with information from all of the main departments associated with business, their main focus included marketing, along with the skill sets and characteristics necessary to have a successful career in the business world.  Students and faculty members from The University of Akron and business professionals from within the community spoke on how their business degree has served them well. 

Members of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), a student organization within the CBA, served as mentors to these high school students.  Kaitlyn Balkovic, the current president of SIFE, thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to volunteer her time and knowledge to help the students gain a better understanding of the business field.  “We have a little bit more experience, but we are still students, so we can relate to them really well.  We were able to share our experiences with them, as we strived to make them more sustainable.”

The students had the opportunity to research and present on the different careers in business, create marketing materials for the CBA, and therefore put into practice the skills necessary to perform well in the business profession.  Learning skills such as how to write professional thank you letters, having a resume that will stick out in the crowd, and working with a team to accomplish a goal are just a few of the skills participants walked away with.

One of the Buchtel High School seniors who participated in the camp really enjoyed this learning experience.  “In the marketing business, there is a lot of networking.  I have learned how important it is to meet the best people, who will help you get to where you want to be.”  The student also expressed how thankful she was to meet Dr. Owens, and she planned to stay in touch with her.

Another student, who was part of the team that won “best presentation,” really took away a lot from the camp.  “Many of the greatest things in life are experienced through education, and if not education, then through work.  This boot camp gave me the opportunity to see, learn and experience firsthand both of these attributes.  I know it will help me as I go through life.” 

Dr. Owens noted that the biggest reward is “hearing students talk about pursuing a career in business; when indeed this had never been on their radar screen prior to the camp”.   Owens credits most of this to the “terrific group of outside speakers I recruit to motivate these kids, including CBA alumni Andrew Hayes, Bacari Brown, and Steve Swedler, members of our business advisory boards such as John Murphy and Darren Hudach, as well as members of the university community including, Alan Parker, Dr. Calderon, Dr. Steve Ash, Dr. Bill Baker, and Lee Gill”.

Since 2002, Akron Project GRAD (Graduation Really Achieves Dreams) has been working with students in the Buchtel Cluster of the Akron Public Schools, providing academic support, and enrichment through tutoring, college prep, and summer institute camps, to help students successfully graduate from high school and attend college.   This is the third annual business boot-camp directed by Dr. Owens, and hosted through the CBA’s Taylor Institute for Direct Marketing at The University of Akron.  

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