Bethel Business Academy Prepares Future Leaders

At a unique new on-campus summer experience, high school students explore their interests and learn how to apply them in the business field.

By Cherie Suonvieri ’15, content specialist

June 27, 2018 | 10 a.m.

Bethel Business Academy

Bethel Business Academy students presented their case study research to department faculty, their peers, and their parents as the camp came to a close.

Because of a Strategic Growth Award from the Bethel Foundation, what originally began in 2016 as a one-day program called Bethel Business Catalyst Summer Institute expanded to become Bethel Business Academy (BBA)—three days of interactive programming enabling high school students to explore various career options in business.

“We ran Bethel Business Catalyst Summer Institute for two years,” says Christina Kaiser, professor of business and economics, who serves as the director of BBA. “It was successful and a lot of fun, but some of the feedback we got from students was that it needed to be longer and that they wanted to stay on campus. That’s what the grant helped us to do.” 

From June 19 to June 21, BBA welcomed a cohort of 15 high school students to participate in a variety of activities, allowing them to build connections with faculty, alumni, current Bethel students, and local business leaders.  

At the beginning of the camp, students attended a session led by Career Development and Calling where they debriefed the results of their Strong Interest Inventory assessments. “This helped the students to see what their knack might be or which direction they might want to go with business,” says Jeff Stitt, professor of business and economics 

Students then explored those interest areas through the Human Library activity, which consisted of one-on-one or small group conversations with Bethel alumni who currently work at various companies in the Twin Cities, including Allina Health, Wells Fargo, Bite Squad, SportsEngine, and Vidscrip. 

Throughout the three-day camp, students also participated in educational games and toured the Wells Fargo Museum and the Federal Reserve—but the focal activity was the case study competition. Working alongside their teammates, students solved a given problem related to human resources, marketing, accounting and finance, or entrepreneurship. The four groups collaborated for hours on both Wednesday and Thursday and then presented their work to their peers, parents, and two faculty judges at the culmination of the camp.

Teamwork and initiative were two standout characteristics of BBA’s attendees, according to Stitt. “As they presented, they were very good at coming back to reinforce what others suggested,” he says. “Typically you don’t see students doing that until a bit later in life... and the timidity you get from the average high school student, I don’t see here.” 

Offering BBA programming for three days enabled students to dive deeper into their case study projects than they had been able to at the one-day event in past years. It also provided students more time to get to know one another and become familiar with Bethel’s campus.

“It allowed for more comradery time,” says Stitt, who has been involved with the planning of BBA since it first began as Catalyst. “You can see that the students enjoy being here and having the opportunity to visit a campus—but also being able to stay overnight and actually feel like they could stand in the shoes of a college student is hugely important.”

While the Strategic Growth Award funded the first year of BBA, the future of the camp, in its three-day format, depends on the availability of funding from alternative sources. “We are in the initial stages of trying to find funds to offer it again in June of 2019,” Kaiser says. “We ultimately would like to make this an annual event.”

Business and Economics at Bethel

The Department of Business and Economics is Bethel's largest undergraduate department, offering ten majors and four minors. In summer 2018, $4 million in renovations made way for its brand new, cutting-edge space on Robertson Center 3rd Floor. The new space includes faculty offices, collaborative learning spaces, and the Thrivent Financial Markets Lab, home to Bethel's Student Managed Investment Fund

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