Essex County College’s West Essex Advisory Board Scholarship fund has received an infusion of $1,700 through the entrepreneur skills of Adjunct Professor Natalie Behman’s Business 203 (Intro to Entrepreneurship) students.
“We embarked on the project (spread over two semesters) with a goal and lesson in mind,” she said.
The Advisory Board scholarships are annually presented at the West Essex Advisory Board Graduates Reception, which is May 10 this year.
After providing the students with “seed money, I encouraged them to be innovative,” said Professor Behman, who is also the College’s Online Course Developer for Online Education. Working in teams, her students (in both her Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 classes) used the seed money to develop a business to “Turn A Profit,” as the exercise was dubbed. Professor Behman donated $60 to the students in the fall and $80 this past semester. Each team received $20 to start.
After signing a contract stating they would take the $20 and buy products they would sell to turn a profit, the students rolled up their sleeves and got to work. “The students learned that turning a profit with just $20 to invest was not as easy as they thought, but attainable nonetheless. The daily issues that they encountered allowed them to experience what it is like to be a business owner,” she said.
The end result, to say the least, was a success. “They sold their products (mostly water, popcorn or baked goods) on campus, at their jobs, their churches, even at Port Newark-Elizabeth,” noted Professor Behman. She was especially pleased as some of the students clearly “thought outside the box.” That included selling empanadas at the Port and clothing accessories via an app.
In the fall, 14 students in the class (working in three groups) made a $748.81 profit in five weeks. Nine students in the spring, working in four smaller groups, turned a $950.76 profit.
Each semester, the students kept a live journal through a Google doc, which enabled Professor Behman to be aware of their triumphs and struggles.
The idea for the project originated from a conference Professor Behman attended. An NJCU professor had come up with the basic idea. “I decided to let them choose their own product in hopes of turning a profit.
“I really want to congratulate all my students for a job well done! Their hard work and dedication will assist future ECC graduates in their educational endeavors.”