East Central University hosts Oklahoma Business Week each summer to give 120 high school and college students a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn about business in a fun, experiential way. Partnerships with business professionals augment student learning and opportunities.
After a dozen years in industry with two entrepreneurial ventures and two stints at large corporations, I began a career in higher education. I also have the privilege of directing East Central University’s Wilburn L. Smith Center for Entrepreneurship. As an entrepreneur tasked with teaching and inspiring students to explore entrepreneurship, I spent a considerable amount of time researching and reading about entrepreneurship education in academic journals to acquire as much information as possible.
A literature review of entrepreneurship education revealed that entrepreneurship educational offerings have increased dramatically over the past 20 years as the importance of entrepreneurs to societies has been more heavily documented in academic literature. While some critics claim that entrepreneurs are born with unique attributes, entrepreneurship studies cite the ability to teach entrepreneurship. Additionally, several scholars cite the best results from hands-on, experiential learning activities associated with entrepreneurship.
This research inspired me to offer Oklahoma Business Week – a one week summer camp with an entrepreneurial focus to students. The reference listings for the literature review are included on the following slides.
To give you a glimpse of what happens at the camp, we are going to watch a 7-minute video that we produced to recruit high school and college students and business professionals.
We began planning for the first Oklahoma Business Week in the Fall of 2011 and held the first camp in the summer of 2012. Since that summer, we’ve continued to grow and found that involvement over 100 students stretched the capacity of our dorm and classroom facilities. For summer 2015, we plan to host the camp with approximately 100 resident students and a few commuter college students.
To host the camp for 100 students, we need involvement from approximately 200 business professionals. Business professionals, like the two Kellogg & Sovereign business consultants pictured here, engage with students in a variety of ways. As an executive committee member who works throughout the year providing oversight and planning assistance. As a company advisor who works with a team of students for the entire week. As a speaker who presents and interacts with students on a specific topic for one or more hours. As a mentor who meets with students over a meal. As a tour host who invites students groups to tour their place of business. As a board room meeting host who invites students to visit their company’s board room for a meal, tour, and presentation about the business. As a board room presentation judge who spends an entire morning interacting with students as they share their successes and failures from the business simulation. As a tradeshow judge who spends time hearing each team’s pitch about their new product or service idea and invests “monopoly” money in potentially good ideas.
We use this overview video to help explain the concept of the camp to all potential students, volunteers, and donors.
OBW Executive Committee members and Company Advisors at OBW 2014
OBW Speaker, Monica Neal, presenting about Ethics
OBW speaker, Jet McCoy, shared words of encouragement with students to set goals and never give up.
Panel Presentation by (left to right) Alan Marcum, Executive Vice President, Devon Energy – Monica Neal, Director of Community Development, Chickasaw Nation – Dr. John Hargrave, President, East Central University
College students have the opportunity to not only participate in OBW events but also plan and lead many of them. College students spend countless semester hours preparing for careers but value the opportunity to put their coursework into practice. With OBW, ECU college students get to do just that. College students serve in a variety of ways throughout the week: As dorm counselors As leaders in the company headquarters As planners of events As speakers to the high school students
OBW Alum and College Student leader, Rachel Nicholas (right) visiting with OBW Camper
OBW College students enjoying a snow cone to cool off after some exciting teamwork games at a local park
OBW alum and college student worker, Ben Godwin (center standing) shares information on presentation skills with OBW campers at a Wednesday soft skills luncheon.
OBW helps students by introducing them to the business world as a camper, helping them develop success skills as an advanced student, offering them the opportunity to practice real-world management, and exposing them to countless business professionals to help expand their network.
While there are numerous events during the week, we would like to highlight three of the favorite and most important to the students.
On the last evening of camp, after students have been running their own business through 8 quarters of operation, students travel to a local business to share a meal and hear executives share about their business in their board room. This not only helps students prepare for their board room presentation the next morning, but it also allows students to network with high level executives from a business.
Students learning from First United Bank Executives
First United Bank executives visiting with OBW students
On the last morning of camp, students present a presentation about the successes and failures experiences while running their simulated business throughout the week. The simulation requires that the students make production, sales, marketing, and financial decisions for each quarter. Results from the simulation help students adjust for future quarters. Additionally, students experience HR, ethical, and other decisions.
On the last day of the camp the students participate in a Tradeshow. All week they have been developing a unique product that they plan on producing and marketing to seller to the public, but in order to do so they must find people who will invest in their company so that they can start up their business. Each team gets a science fair board and their imagination runs wild. They learn how to give a 30 second elevator pitch of their product to give to the investors and they learn really quick what works and what doesn’t. As a team, they make a game plan and assign different jobs to each teammate and it’s off to the races as they compete against the other teams to earn enough “money” to start up their business!
OBW students pitching their idea to a trade show investor.
An example of an OBW tradeshow booth
ECU President, John Hargrave, visiting with OBW students about their pitch
Cliff Agee, a Chickasaw Nation executive, visiting with students about their tradeshow pitch
As we’ve progressed with OBW, we wanted to examine the impact of the event on students. At the beginning and again at the end of the week, students complete a SurveyMonkey® survey about what they know and have learned throughout the week. As you can see the most significant improvement experienced involved leadership skills. Also significant were recognition of opportunity, development of a new product or service, networking, and problem solving. While students did rate their creativity skills as improved, the change was not significant.
An interesting point from the survey was the number of students who might consider a career as an entrepreneur. While the response result was the same at 48 on both the pre- and post-tests, 20 students changed their answer. This helped us understand that what the students are learning during the week may influence future career decisions.
On the post-test, students were also asked a series of yes/no questions about their experience at the camp. Those with the most meaning are highlighted in the slide.
The OBW Executive Committee and sponsors rate the camp a valuable investment of time and money. The camp allows East Central University to recruit talented students. From the first three years of OBW, over 30 students have enrolled in ECU after their OBW experience. Half of these have come from outside ECU’s normal recruitment area. Our college business students have the opportunity to gain real-world management and leadership experience by planning and executing camp activities. All parties involved benefit from the networking opportunities involved. ECU has benefited from establishing new business professional relationships and strengthening others.
As we answer your questions, we are going to continue to scroll through some pictures from the camp as well as quotes from OBW alumni.
Oklahoma Business Week
Oklahoma Business Week
East Central University
Stacey Bolin, Rachel Nicholas, and Casey Black
• Engagement: Setting the Stage
• OBW Video
• OBW Engagement: Professionals
• OBW Engagement: College Students
• OBW Highlighted Activities
• OBW Research: The Impact on Students
• OBW Goals: Mission Accomplished
Engagement: Setting the Stage
• Entrepreneurs contribute to prosperity, create jobs, and fuel
innovation (Solomon, Bryant, May, & Perry, 2013; Yallapragada & Bhuiyan, 2011).
86% of the new jobs (Neumark, Wall, & Zhang, 2011)
70% of the world’s production (Ates & Bititci, 2011)
67% of new inventions (Winkel, Vanevenhoven, Drago, & Clements, 2013)
• Despite some debate, entrepreneurship studies cite the ability to
teach entrepreneurship (Cheung & Au, 2010; Morris, Webb, Fu, & Singhal, 2013; Raposo & Do
Paco, 2011; Schmidt, Soper, & Bernaciak, 2013).
Best results from hands-on, experiential learning (Gerba, 2012; Gibson, Harris, Mick, &
Ates, A., & Bititci, U. (2011). Change process: A key enabler for building resilient SMEs. International
Journal of Production Research, 49, 5601–5618. doi:10.1080/00207543.2011.563825
Cheung, C., & Au, E. (2010). Running a small business by students in a secondary school: Its impact on
learning about entrepreneurship. Journal of Entrepreneurship Education, 13, 45–63. Retrieved
Gerba, D. T. (2012). The context of entrepreneurship education in Ethiopian universities. Management
Research Review, 35(3/4), 225–244. doi:10.1108/01409171211210136
Gibson, S., Harris, M., Mick, T., & Burkhalter, T. (2011). Comparing the entrepreneurial attitudes of
university and community college students. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice,
11(2), 11–18. Retrieved from http://www.na-businesspress.com/jhetpopen.html
Morris, M. H., Webb, J. W., Fu, J., & Singhal, S. (2013). A competency-based perspective on
entrepreneurship education: Conceptual and empirical insights. Journal of Small Business
Management, 51, 352–369. doi:10.1111/jsbm.12023
Neumark, D., Wall, B., & Zhang, J. (2011). Do small businesses create more jobs? New evidence for the
United States from the national establishment time series. Review of Economics and Statistics,
93(1), 16–29. doi:10.1162/REST_a_00060
Raposo, M., & Do Paco, A. (2011). Entrepreneurship education: Relationship between education and
entrepreneurial activity. Psicothema, 23, 453–457. Retrieved from http://www.psicothema.com
Schmidt, J. J., Soper, J. C., & Bernaciak, J. (2013). Creativity in the entrepreneurship program: A survey
of the directors of award winning programs. Journal of Entrepreneurship Education, 16, 31–44.
Retrieved from http://www.alliedacademies.org/Public/Journals/JournalDetails.aspx?jid=8
Solomon, G. T., Bryant, A., May, K., & Perry, V. (2013). Survival of the fittest: Technical assistance,
survival and growth of small businesses and implications for public policy. Technovation, 33(8-9),
Winkel, D., Vanevenhoven, J., Drago, W. A., & Clements, C. (2013). The structure and scope of
entrepreneurship programs in higher education around the world. Journal of Entrepreneurship
Education, 16, 15–29. Retrieved from
Yallapragada, R. R., & Bhuiyan, M. (2011). Small business entrepreneurships in the United States. Journal
of Applied Business Research, 27(6), 117–122. Retrieved from
The Reach of OBW: Student Capital
• OBW began
• Growth in
62 n/a 15
72 10 25
84 15 40
OBW Research: The Impact on Students
Statistical Significance between Pretest and
Student Ratings of their Abilities - Scale 1 to 7
Leadership Skills t(76) = 2.44, p < .01
Recognition of Opportunity t(76) = 2.36, p < .05
Development of New Products and Services t(76) = 2.22, p < .05
Networking Skills and Professional Contacts t(76) = 2.14, p < .05
Problem Solving t(76) = 2.02, p < .05
Creativity t(76) = 1.00, p > .05
Students Considering Entrepreneurship as a
I feel more confident speaking in a group or public setting now 91%
I feel more comfortable asking questions if I am not sure about something 90%
I feel more comfortable negotiating my ideas and thoughts 95%
I found my interaction with my CA valuable to my personal development 94%
I found speakers, judges and guests valuable for my personal development 97%
I feel I am better able to work in a team environment 97%
I feel more flexible and tolerant 92%
I feel I am better able to evaluate and select information 95%
I will work even harder in school after this experience 97%
I will return to school with greater motivation to succeed after this experience 99%
This week gave me better ideas about furthering my education beyond high school 94%
I am more excited for my future career possibilities 96%
I am more self-confident 93%
OBW helped me understand what is required to manage a successful business 100%
I have a better understanding of corporate/business finance 96%
My understanding of personal finance/credit has improved 92%
I had fun 99%
I will recommend this program to my friends 99%
My ability to work under deadlines has improved 92%
I think I am more creative 87%
I would like to return to a future OBW 91%
Has OBW influenced your choice of a college major? 76%
OBW Goals: Mission Accomplished
1. Recruitment of Excellent Students
2. Real World Management Experience for College
• Planning & Execution of Teambuilding Activities
• Assisting with Companies and Dorm Life
3. Networking for the Future
4. Business Professional Engagement
“It was more hands on and we were
able to work with other students
directly and formed bonds with the
other students which made it a lot
“I actually had hands on learning
instead of reading it out of the book, as
well as speakers with success in
business showing that I can actually
achieve something later in my future.”
“It's much more specific and hands on,
which I enjoy. You actually put all of
your time to use at OBW, where as in
school you waste too much time. OBW is
more fast paced, so I never get bored
and I'm always interested.”
“I actually learned what it means to
run a business. I learned about all the
important details in business. I did
not just learn about leadership skills,
but also business skills that are
important to ANY occupation I go in
“At Howe High School I only learned
the basics to business but only
enough to get a taste for it. At OBW I
now understand what business is and
want it to be part of my future.”
OBW Contact Information
Camp Director – Stacey Bolin
OBW Intern – Casey Black