Students learn real skills in virtual businesses

  

what virtual business

One thousand three hundred students from every corner of the United States flocked to Pasadena, California, to talk about businesses they had set up. This is not an influx of young entrepreneurs and new startups in the world, as the businesses are completely virtual. Therefore, their products and services are not real and only virtual money is exchanged.

Organised by Virtual Enterprises International, the conference resembled a trade show, housing numerous virtual businesses offering products such as communications technology or food. The New York City-based group says it helps high school students learn modern business skills such as problem solving, communication and technology. The group stated that the project was inspired by the European tradition of apprenticeships in which students learn from people already working in a business or trade.
During the event, students from Miguel Contreras Business and Tourism School in Los Angeles tried to get customers for their virtual business, Big City Tours. The creators, who got some help from their teacher Darrel Iki, said that their business stands out for providing virtual tours to different parts of Los Angeles, providing customers with a a great guide to the city's ethnic heritage, take them to see high-end fashion or visit stores.
Meanwhile, students from Century High School in Santa Ana, California, were selling a translation device designed for travellers. According to students and teachers, the experience of creating a business feels very realistic. Students start with a business plan, then they establish a hierarchy and, according to Iki, they learn to “work together, having a common goal in a potentially successful business.”
Nick Chapman, president and national program director for Virtual Enterprises International, said that students soon realise that operating a business takes a lot of effort and time. “They're running meetings, they're networking, they're meeting with professionals, they're working with mentors, all of the things that are really going to set them apart when they get into college and then move on into their careers,” he stated.
Chapman also said that Virtual Enterprise International program welcomes 13,000 students each year. Students seem quite content with this experience and have declared that working on creating their own business will help them in the future when they enter the real world.
One of the students from Century High School, Miguel Santin, stated that while creating this company, it takes strong communication skills to run a company. He also said that he now understands the pressure of running a company. Working in a virtual company called Taste of the World, he was tasked with overseeing employment and digital media for the virtual company.This virtual company was conceived as a subscription service and it sends samples to customers through the mail.
One of the students from Century High School, Miguel Santin, stated that while creating this company, it takes strong communication skills to run a company. He also said that he now understands the pressure of running a company. Working in a virtual company called Taste of the World, he was tasked with overseeing employment and digital media for the virtual company.This virtual company was conceived as a subscription service and it sends samples to customers through the mail.
“You really need to be hands on with your employees and make sure you guys have strong communication. Otherwise the company just won't prosper as much as you would expect.”
Teacher Alan Gerston, who helped set up Taste of the World, explained, “You sign up for three months, six months, a year, and you receive a snack box with trinkets and information about the company every single month throughout your subscription time.”
“You would pay within our virtual economy,” Gerston said, “using virtual money in a web-based simulated bank system,” he explained. “All the kids in the program have bank accounts…so when they buy something, we give them a receipt,” he added.
Stephen Jarvis, from the Elizabeth Learning Centre in Cudahy, California, told VOA that there is a lot to learn. He added, “It isn't just selling something. It's all the things that go on behind the scenes – creating documents, figuring out if you're making money or losing money.”
Catalina Garcia, a senior who received financial assistance to become a doctor, is a student entrepreneur with the Big City Tours project, and she admitted, “It's helped me a lot because when I was trying to get the scholarship, I went to the interviews, and being in this company has helped me really prepare my presentation skills and be able to talk to other people.”
Despite of what she does in the future and even though she will become a doctor rather than an entrepreneur, Garcia is sure that the skills she has gained creating the virtual project will help her in the future.

 

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