This summer, the Robert H. Smith School of Business welcomed 50 high school students into the sixth year of its Smith Summer Business Programs. The two-week interactive summer programs aim to foster and develop professional skills in high school students.
Designed to give them the competitive edge needed in business, the programs consist of the Snider Enterprise and Leadership Fellows program (SELF), which focuses on entrepreneurship; and the Smith Sports and Entertainment Business Program (SEBP), centered on business careers in the sports and entertainment industries.
Jeanette Snider, director of the Smith Summer Business Programs, spoke about she has such a passion for educating youth: “I have a specific interest in equity and access in higher education, and I want to make sure we create pipelines for students.”
And these programs do exactly that.
From touring 3M Corporation, a global innovation and product manufacturing company, to traveling to New York and visiting the CBS Television Station and NFL Headquarters, these high school students had an exclusive, all-access pass into the world of business. Participants of SELF even took part in a customer discovery exercise, where students interviewed people in Washington, D.C. to gauge the relevance of their business ideas through potential customer feedback.
Brennan Skirzenski, a rising senior at West Morris Mendham High School, said, “From the very first week we were immersed in teams.”
The program consisted of classes led by faculty and other business professionals, combined with team-building exercises and social activities. Everything culminated in a competition where teams from SELF created a new and innovative product to solve a real-world problem. Teams from SEBP had the task of rebranding a renowned fictional athlete soon to retire.
Ninsima Mugamba, a rising senior at Blake High School, asserted, “The team activities helped build relationships with people who have so much knowledge to give. I plan to take the team-building skills I’ve learned back to my clubs and organizations, because I now know how to avoid conflict and collaborate positively.”
Skirzenski also noted the importance of “listening to everyone's ideas, no matter how silly or convoluted they may seem, because they can all be refined into amazing ideas.”
Even Taylar Brown, a rising senior at Martinsville High School, who was once “dead set” on becoming a dental hygienist, now wants to be a sports philanthropist after listening to a guest speaker.
When asked if they would recommend this program to anyone else, every student responded with an emphatic “Yes!” One participant, Calen Green, a rising senior at Bishop McNamara High School, revealed this is actually her second time attending the Smith Summer Programs.
— Sadia Alao ’20, Marketing and Theater double major