Ross School Students Host Career Outreach Program for Teens
Accounting Club makes finance fun for high school students.
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The Accounting Club and BBA Program at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business recently hosted 50 high school students at an outreach program designed to get students interested in the business school and a career in accounting.
Ninth graders from Wayne Memorial High School in Wayne, Michigan and Cass Technical High School in Detroit participated in a half-day event that included a campus tour, a video about accounting, comedy skit, lunch and hands-on exercises to teach students the basics of finance, operations and strategy.
Two student teams simulated real-world accounting by creating a company name and purchasing and selling candy as stocks and cookies as their product. Accounting Club members also taught a lesson in strategy using financial statements to compare the two companies. Students received a gift bag from corporate sponsors and a certificate of participation upon completing the program.
Andrew Davignon, BBA '06, a member of the Accounting Club and the club's former vice president of service, helped design the program as a way for the organization to become more involved in the community. Davignon said he was surprised by how quickly the high school students caught on. "At the end of the program, we asked the students to tell us what they learned and I was amazed to hear them articulate the concepts they were taught," he said. "Our hope was that they would get interested in business, know what classes to take in high school and apply to the Ross School of Business."
Vanessa Stafford, transition services coordinator at Wayne Memorial, said the program puts real-life jobs into perspective and teaches students the importance of investing. "A lot of these students spend money on gym shoes and clothing. Here they learn how they can own a piece of those companies by investing in them instead," she said.
Cass Tech business teacher Wilhelmina Williams said it was important to bring underclassmen rather than seniors to the program. "This way, you can build on what they've learned. The more exposure, the better," she added.
Ross School Director of BBA Student Affairs Rob Koonce worked with the Detroit Public School District's Compact program—a partnership of students, educators, area businesses and government agencies working to guarantee youth employment or college for students in middle school and high school—to organize the event. His goal is to expand the program to more high schools each year. "We are talking with other Ross student clubs about hosting events for 10th and 11th graders too," he added.
Compact Coordinator James Holly, who works with Cass Tech, also anticipates the program will evolve. "I would like to see business school students and corporate partners bring the program to our high school to meet the staff, principal and other administrators," he said.
Karen Bird, lecturer of accounting and Accounting Club sponsor, expressed concern that high school students aren't introduced to business as a career. She said students who do well in math are encouraged to pursue engineering, while those who are more interested in science are told they would be good doctors. "Our students are so bright—they were the best in their high schools—and when they get here as freshmen, this may be their first opportunity and exposure to business and accounting. It's nice to be able to bring that to high school students," she said.
The outreach program was funded by Amex, Caterpillar Company and Shell. A survey given to students at the end of the program confirmed that they understood the simulations and found them beneficial. They will be invited to participate in a program for 10th graders next year.
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