By Kendall Bushick ’22 and Sam Cascio ’22
Like many Davidson students, our summer plans were canceled after the COVID-19 pandemic sent us home for quarantine. We didn’t know what we were going to do with all our extra time this summer until the Center for Career Development sent out an email about a 3-week virtual Business Bootcamp through Furman University. With this newly discovered chance to make our summer count, we attended one of the program’s information sessions, which ultimately persuaded us to apply for the Bootcamp. We also applied for the 2020 Summer Professional Development/Internship Grant, which we were both grateful to receive. We would like to give a special thanks to the Career Center and donors who made this opportunity possible!
One of the program’s most appealing factors was that it’s designed for non-business majors. Both of us had little knowledge of the industry being Psychology and Economics majors. Coming from a liberal arts school with no business-specific courses, this program seemed like the perfect opportunity to begin educating ourselves.
Because this was a virtual experience, we were on Zoom from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm. The typical schedule was two sessions in the morning, lunch break with a guest speaker, two more sessions, and a quick debriefing session to end the day. Throughout the first two weeks, we experienced a variety of professors teaching us business fundamentals like accounting, finance, marketing, and business analytics. We also learned special topics like Professional Development, Excel Modeling, Career Planning, Productivity in a Remote World, and Photoshop and Presentation Skills. With such a wide range of coverage, we truly felt like we learned at least one completely new thing in each session. Not only did the variety help foster our learning, but each session was very interactive. Students were constantly encouraged to participate in group discussions throughout the sessions, whether it be in a large group or breakout rooms, which helped us learn from both the professors and one another.
During the final week of the program, we were encouraged to apply all the skills and knowledge we gained from the first two weeks in order to create a pitch deck, a brief presentation describing our business plan. We were broken into teams to work as entrepreneurs creating our own unique and innovative service or product. This was a great opportunity to collaborate with a group of 5-6 students from other colleges and universities. In just 3.5 days, we went from ideation to presentation. It was very rewarding to see how we applied the knowledge learned in the previous weeks to collaborative problem solving in our 5-minute pitch deck and business model canvas. Once all the pitches were successfully delivered and we had completed the program, we were all encouraged to say, “I’m an Entrepreneur,” because now we are!
We both found the Bootcamp’s mentorship program to be a special part of the experience. Furman had reached out to 42 different professionals and matched each bootcamp participant to one mentor based on career interests. This was a great opportunity to learn the value of connections and also be able to learn from an individual currently working in the business world. Creating these personal and professional connections furthered our educational experience within the program, and we are now fortunate enough to have these everlasting bonds.
Not only did we learn from our personal mentors, we also learned from the daily guest speakers. We had the opportunity to hear from business professionals in other industries that may not have matched our career interests, or that we had no previous knowledge of. We were able to further extend our network and learn about the different career paths.
The Program directors and professors commonly exclaimed “This is like drinking from a firehose!” Some days definitely felt this way. We never imagined we could learn so much and also apply our newfound knowledge in only 3 weeks! At the end of the program there was a virtual graduation, where we received our official business and entrepreneurship certificates. This experience has opened our eyes to all the possible careers in the business world. Being rising juniors and not knowing exactly what we want to do after graduation, this program helped us learn more about all the opportunities out there. It helped each of us find new interests and directions with what we each potentially may want to do with our lives in the future.
We also learned many skills that we plan to, and already have, applied in our lives. One of the biggest takeaways was the importance of reaching out to people and making meaningful and lasting connections. We have taken advantage of the many great and insightful professors and guest speakers from the program and have already reached out and connected with some. It is amazing how much you can learn from others and how willing people are to take the time to help you.
We would definitely recommend this program to any Davidson student who is not only interested in building on the foundations of business and entrepreneurship, but also looking for an unforgettable and rewarding educational experience!