Flourishing Entrepreneurship at King Career Center
The Business Industries class at the Martin Luther King Career Center (KCC) is a unique type of classroom. Here, high school students from all corners of the Anchorage School District do not just sit at lectures—they actually get to research, formulate, launch, run, and eventually liquidate their own businesses within KCC in the course of a semester.
The sophistication of these student’s small operations is nothing short of impressive, given the short time-frame they have to plan and bring them to life. Students carry out market studies within the school to familiarize themselves with the student body as consumers, they analyze the data, identify the economic opportunities, and come up with a business idea; and this is only in the first four weeks of the course.
As explained in KCC’s Business Industries website, the purpose of the class, is “to prepare students for entry-level positions in small business while helping them to identify educational pathways to more specialized business fields.” However, the class goes above and beyond this vision. As teams of students explore the business development process through their projects, they gain a holistic sense of business, gaining diverse skills in finance, accounting, marketing, management, communications, and an understanding of how these interact.
Moreover, a remarkable course component is its strong connection to the community of entrepreneurs in Anchorage. A local business expert is scheduled to appear weekly to help mentor the students through the development of their ventures and several events through the semester require the participation of several members of the business community. For instance, once students have completed their business plans, they present their idea to a four-member panel of “investors,” who provide feedback to students’ ideas, ask critical questions, challenge the given assumptions, and then “invest” in the companies in which they see the most potential.
These interactions with real-life employers and experts in the community provides students with key strategies for success as well as essential networking opportunities at the very early stages of their careers. The benefits, however, are a by no means one-sided, as these events are a great networking venue for local experts as well, giving them the opportunity to learn from each others’ recommendations to students and find a connection to a source of highly professional workforce.
In their presentation to investor panels, students showcased a variety of original projects, from Valentine’s Day deliveries to home-made subwoofer speakers. They also showed highly advanced analysis of their break-even points, profit margins, and projections as well as detailed plans of their material sources. Moreover, the local experts that sat at the panel did not shy away from asking tough questions, forcing students to dig deeper in their knowledge, and pushing the limits of their skills; exceptionally valuable lessons that they would not have received in any other context.
Perhaps the greatest aspect of KCC’s Business Industries is the passion and excitement that fills the classroom. When asked what their favorite thing about the project is, students beam and are quick with their answers: the teamwork, the business planning, the chance to use their creativity, getting to see something come to fruition. Such a level of inspiration and commitment in a class is rare and priceless; something we sincerely congratulate KCC for instilling in their student body and community. For more information, contact Raymond Voley, KCC Business Industries Teacher, at [email protected] or 907-742-8900.