Young entrepreneurs gain invaluable lessons at annual Virtual Enterprise event at Rabobank Convention Center
Rabobank Convention Center was jam packed with buyers and sellers as thousands of dollars traded hands during the annual Virtual Enterprise Trade Fair on Dec. 3. Now in its 15th year, the event is the largest competition of its kind in the state and a mecca for real-world learning about how to run a business. Well, virtual real-world learning that is.
In short, entrants compete to see who has the best business model, putting into practice the principals they have learned from their high school Virtual Enterprise courses. Companies set up vendor booths to “sell” their virtual goods and services for, you guessed it, virtual money.
Among the more than 100 high school business teams from all over the state were three from the KCSOS-run Kern Regional Occupational Program, including two teams from California City High School and another from Tehachapi High School.
The teams from California City each focused on mythical novelty goods — one sold dream catchers adorned with magical feathers, the other peddled fictional character eggs each with a unique paint job.
“Our dragon and unicorn eggs are among our best sellers,” quipped the company’s CEO.
At a booth across the sales floor, the team from Tehachapi High was selling memberships to The Pulse, an upscale, private bowling alley.
Students engage in various business activities throughout the year, which create authentic applied learning opportunities. By combining a rigorous curriculum with hands-on applications of a variety of academic skills, Virtual Enterprise prepares students for both career and college.
Making sales is important, but just as critical to the judges is the kind of business plan they developed, booth design, product promotion, training of staff, marketing approach and personal appearance.
California City High team teacher Carrie Johnson says her students are involved in every aspect of running a business. Among other things, they use real tools like QuickBooks to manage funds, create HR manuals with desktop publishing programs, pay virtual bills using online banking, and create working websites.
“These are all skills that they could take right onto the job, and more than just entry-level work,” Johnson said. “They are learning skills no matter what field they go into.
While the teams from California City and Tehachapi did not place high enough to move on to the national competition in April, one Kern County team did. The PureFit team from Bakersfield High School placed third overall and will represent Kern County in New York City, April 1-3, 2014.