Carlson School building exterior

Getting Down to (Gopher) Business

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

At the end of July, a group of 35 high-potential high school students spent a week on campus as part of GopherBusiness, a new business-focused summer camp. This inaugural program was developed by the Carlson School to serve and support talented high school students from diverse backgrounds who may have encountered barriers to educational resources and opportunities.

“When designing the GopherBusiness program we hoped to attract talented students from diverse backgrounds who have a genuine interest in exploring business. I’m proud to say that we got exactly what we had hoped for!” says Brent Opall, director, Multicultural Affairs & Diversity Education. “Our energetic and high-achieving youth consistently impressed everyone they met. Our corporate partners, Carlson School staff, and competition judges were amazed by the aptitude and energy of the GopherBusiness students.”

During their time on campus, the students learned about marketing, finance, accounting, and supply chain management from Carlson School faculty. In addition to classroom instruction, the students visited local businesses to gather insights from industry professionals.

“It was so much fun because we got to learn the details of business, go on site visits, and make some amazing friends,” says Kush Patel, a student taking part in the venture. “It was the best because we got to visit companies such as Colle + McVoy as well as Travelers Insurance. We even got to work on a business case for a nonprofit, and we got to use all the information we learned in our business classes and actually apply it to the case.”

The business case was The Cookie Cart, a nonprofit retail/commercial bakery that offers North Minneapolis youth the opportunity to develop life, leadership, and employment skills. “The students came up with a wide range of creative solutions to the Cookie Cart case, many of which Executive Director Matt Halley has agreed to incorporate into daily operations,” says Mindy Deardurff, director of recruitment and marketing, Carlson Undergraduate Program.

GopherBusiness is a great tool for us to reach students we would like to see join our company someday. We want people who are committed to their own personal growth and development.

Michael Newman

Student Vonnick Boyogueno says she learned much from GopherBusiness. “Business is not just about making big money. There is so much more to it,” she says. “You need to have good communication skills and be able to work in groups so that you can accomplish many things.”

This first-ever GopherBusiness program would not have been possible without a grant from the Travelers Foundation. “GopherBusiness is a great tool for us to reach students we would like to see join our company someday. We want people who are committed to their own personal growth and development,” says Michael Newman, vice president, Travelers Foundation.

“Through the generous support of Travelers, we were able to provide students a holistic sneak-peek into the world of business and the power of the interaction between business and the nonprofit community,” Deardurff says. “From our end, we could not have hoped for a better pilot year for GopherBusiness.”

Other GopherBusiness corporate partners include the Carlson Family Foundation, Wells Fargo, Ernst & Young, Colle + McVoy, Izzy’s Ice Cream, and General Mills.