Among all the rigorous AP courses and hands-on elective classes Timothy Christian High School offers there is one class where there is no teacher standing at the front lecturing and no students listening closely while they scribble down hurried notes. Instead, you’ll see a class of young adults working on laptops, holding meetings, discussing budgets, and designs as they run their company. This is Virtual Enterprises International.
VEI, as most call it, is a course that turns the classroom into a virtual business. Taught by Mrs. Kendra Lee, the Director of Teaching and Learning, VEI provides students with the real-world experience of operating a business.
“VEI is a simulation of a work environment and each student has a role in the company,” Mrs. Lee explains.
This year due to the interest this course has gained, there are two businesses, Core Inc. and Simple Selections, with a total of 44 students. Core Inc., leases electric cars and is focused on leasing new styles of cars that appeal to a younger generation, all while working to make its cars environmentally friendly. Simple Selections, unlike Core Inc., is not selling a product, but aims to solve the problem of food waste. Simple Selections sells defective looking, but edible food from restaurants and stores that would be otherwise thrown away.
VEI students develop a 20 page business plan, create materials for tradeshows, and participate in marketing and financial competitions. But before any of those exciting things can begin students have to land a job within the company.
Due to Covid-19 the interview process looked a little different this year. Usually students go to Park Place of Elmhurst for a face-to-face interview, but this year they had a Google Meet with residents who have business experience.
Even though they were virtual interviews, Senior Olivia Tazalaar, the current CEO of Core Inc., explained that everyone has to interview for a position in the company. “You can’t just wing it,” Olivia explains. “You have to spend time putting together and revising resumes, prepare a cover letter, fill out a job application, and have a letter of recommendation from a teacher or employer. Plus dress business formal for the interview.”
Senior Sureya Alex interviewed for the CEO position at Simple Selections. “I practiced saying my answers to various questions to myself in the mirror or to my parents,” Sureya recalls. “I just became very fluent in what I had to say.” In the end, despite her nerves and thanks to her persistent practicing, she landed the job.
The restrictions due to COVID have drastically altered the class—typically, the VEI class will go to trade shows throughout the year to see and experience the current business world hands on. The usual trade show experience, making connections and networking, that these trips provide is not possible.
But even during a pandemic, Mrs. Lee is committed to helping her students gain real-world business experience. They will participate in online trade shows and much like the in-person trade shows, the students will still have to prepare business cards, brochures, and catalogs to use. Students will also be given the chance to practice the sales presentation and develop a conferencing background. Of course, being an international program students have the opportunity to compete with other VEI classes around the world who have developed their own business in the VEI economy.
VEI is a great class for any student looking for hands-on business experience and a chance to take charge. This course provides the perfect opportunity to develop workplace techniques and become career ready. Regardless of what position a student lands—from human resources, to marketing, to CEO—there are basic workplace skills every employee needs to know. And VEI helps develop Christian leaders.