What is Alaska Business Week?
Alaska Business Week (ABW) gives high school students hands-on learning opportunities that explore their leadership skills and future career choices, all while earning college credit. ABW simulates a business environment, immersing students in business scenarios like running a business. Students are broken up into different “companies” which compete against each other. A team of business executives work directly with students throughout the week, advising and coaching each company in its pursuit of a winning strategy.
Learning what it takes to be a good leader
Magen James, from the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, volunteered at ABW this year, attending most of the presentations by Alaska business leaders.
Marilyn Romano, who used to be the publisher for the Daily News-Miner and is now the Regional Vice President for Alaska Airlines, presented on leadership and personal growth. She said that to be a good leader you have to understand what everyone else is going through and what their jobs entail. You don’t have to do their jobs, but you have to understand what they do so you can help them be more successful.
Marilyn pointed out how leaders play an important role and I thought that was very powerful.
The next generation of business leaders
Hope Bickmeier, Program Coordinator for the Northern Leadership Center, helped coordinate Alaska Business Week. She worked behind the scenes, interacting with students, company advisors, resident assistants, volunteers, and guest speakers. Hope had a front row seat to what can happen when you put 68 high schoolers from across Alaska and the Lower 48 in a dynamic learning environment.
In addition to learning the nuts and bolts of running a successful business, the high school students learned that good can come from being out of your comfort zone and the benefits of exploring new ideas. Most students arrived on campus not knowing anyone else and by the time they left a week later they had made friends, been mentored by an Alaskan leader, heard incredible speakers, and ran a successful company. I think they left with a new confidence and understanding of their abilities to impact Alaska’s economy. They also learned the valuable lesson of how to get along with others with different perspectives in order to build a stronger team.
There is no doubt in my mind that these students will one day (when they’re running this state) cross paths and say “Hey, didn’t we go through Alaska Business Week together at UAF?” It will be in moments like those that the vision of this program will be realized. And I am proud to have been a part of it.
Read the Inside Stories
Andy Rogers, Deputy Director of the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, attended the 2012 Alaska Business Week as a returning Company Advisor. He wrote about it on his blog, Andy Rogers Writes. Here’s an excerpt:
We need our kids to dream big. I issued a challenge to the ABW 2012 graduates. It is a challenge that I would issue to anyone of any age who wished to tear off a larger bite of life.
The challenge is this.
Choose the words that you would like to describe your life. Use words like Build, Grow, Create, and Invent. Then build a life that makes those words true. Don’t settle for a life described with small, ordinary words. There are enough of us doing that.
If it ever turns out that you do not love what you are doing, then start something new. Craft your world and your days around the way that you want to live your life. Then take as many other Alaskans as you can along for the ride.
What are you waiting for? Go read the rest of Becoming Stronger, Faster, and Smarter!
The Student Perspective
After attending ABW for a week, students headed home, armed with new business know-how and leadership prowess. Before they left, they filled out an anonymous survey. Here’s just a sample of what some Alaska Business Week attendees had to say:
This is an excellent program and I hope it continues to grow! I think that students need to learn a lot more about how to run a business as many don’t know anything about business or economics. I feel these are both extremely important, both in our personal and professional lives.
I love this camp.
It was a great experience being able to work with people I had never met before.
This camp is something I think everyone should go to once.
I have learned many important facts that I will take with me for the rest of my life.
Thank you Alaska Business Week!
I had fun, and I encourage everyone to participate in it.
Alaska Business Week is such a Great Program!!!
Best Program I ever attended