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Now What?

Strategies you can use when the firm closes doors at the end of April

After the full year of grinding the VE Experience, the firm closes its doors at the end of April and when May comes many teachers struggle to find something to do with their students. The company fiscal year ends on April 30, so most companies shut things down in May and are doing some final wrap-ups for the year and are not sure what to do to fill the empty time for the students the last month or so in the firm. During this time a lot of things are happening at schools. In May AP testing starts and can take students out of your class multiple times.  Seniors (who are fully infected with “Senioritis” are done and ready to get out of high school) will begin preparing for graduation and senior activities so there is not as much time as you think before the end of the school year. So I am hoping that some of these ideas will help you plan for the final month (or two depending on where you teach) and end the year with some fun activities that will help your students transition into the real world.


INDIVIDUAL DIGITAL PORTFOLIOS

This is a traditional element provided in the VE curriculum and is a project that could have been worked on throughout the year or as an end-of-the-year final project. The digital portfolio is a cumulative representation of showcasing all the work the student has done throughout the year in their VE experience. Items that should be included are an Introduction Letter, work samples from the year, awards and accolades (directly related to the student or the department they worked in), Application documents (Updated Resume and Cover letter), and letters of recommendation.  The process is detailed with examples in the HUB curriculum → Student Portfolio → Portfolio Planning → Guidelines for Organizing a Digital Portfolio. The finished portfolio can be presented to the class in a presentation format and can be used for real-world job applications and interviews as the student transitions into the workforce.


JOB DESCRIPTIONS

One of the challenges for me each year was to have clear job descriptions for the students coming into the VE experience in the next year. In this project, all students would create a presentation that details what they did in their job within the firm. The project would include a title slide, Description of the job, Qualities, and Skills needed to be successful in the position, examples of work done in that job, competitions related to the position or department, and a reflection slide advising about what you need to know about the position and things that someone entering this job in the coming year should be focusing on. I would archive these presentations to make them available for new students to read in the fall as they explore the different job positions in the new firm.


LEADERSHIP INTERVIEWS

If you have sequential or feeder classes where students will all be entering the VE simulation in the fall this might be a great option for you. You can use your current VE class to interview the prospective candidates for the chief officer or if you are ambitious all the leadership positions for the coming year. I have found the kids love to share their perspectives and experiences when selecting the next group of students who will be starting the program. I typically would use the current leaders or full departments as the panel to interview the incoming candidates for the position. I would use the similar process that was used at the beginning of the year found in one of my previous blog posts The Interview Process.


PERSONAL FINANCE - IT’S NOT TOO LATE

For many teachers, especially if you are new to the VE experience, personal finance was either on the back burner or was never a thought that entered your mind as you were just trying to survive the experience. Many teachers at this time of year have students with bulging personal bank accounts that might have never even been accessed by the student all year. Others might have just used the money in their accounts to pay for purchases at trade shows without it ever really coming into play through the year. Well, this last month can be used as an exploration of personal finance where the student can take their VE salary and see how far it can be stretched to live on their own in the community in which they work for the VE firm. This might be the only time in their entire school experience that they can learn about setting up a budget, buying a car, finding a place to live, and paying bills. If this is something you have not done all year, this might be a good option for you to give this experience to your kids before they leave for the summer. Start with my blog post Making Finances Personal - Part One. In this post, it will give you all the tools to begin the journey. Once this is completed you can finish with Making Finances Personal - Part Two to complete the experience using their personal bank accounts to pay bills.


MOVING OUT PROJECT

In working with teachers I quite often come across things that they do do that I think should be shared with others. I got this project from Kim Fitzgerald, who teaches VE at La Serna High School in Southern California. If you have not done much in personal finance that is a good option to give the students a glimpse of the economics of what it would be like for them to move out. This project requires students to research and develop a presentation that explores what it would be like to move out and live on their own in any place in the country. You can download a copy of the Moving Out Project and you can edit your copy to fit your needs. 


BUSINESS TRIP PROJECT

As I was working with Teri Jones, the Western Regional Director, she shared with me about an end-of-year project she would do with her VE students. This project simulated as if the student were looking for international markets to expand into and explore for the firm. Each student would select a different country and develop a presentation they would share with the class about their finding. If you have an international student base in your class, it is a great way for them to share about the country their family is from. In this project, the students would research all aspects of a business trip to this country. The presentation could include (1) the general demographic information of the country, which might include the information they can find on the country wiki page. (2) Economic environment of the country (major imports and exports, socio-economic factors, GDP, and that sort of data. (3) The Business Trip Budget (this would include costs for transportation/airfare, hotels, and meals while they are on the trip) (4) Findings this would be a summary of the exploration of the country and recommendations on if the company should invest in the expansion into the market and reasons why or why not. Teri told me that when the students presented they would create a display table to highlight the country that might have objects, products, and food samples from that country. You could even encourage students to wear some items in the traditional dress of people from that country.


I hope that if you are looking for activities for your students, some of these things sparked ideas that you can do with your students. So moving forward, if you have any special projects you do with your student to end the year, please post a comment or send me an email of what you do so we can share the wealth of ideas in the VE community.

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