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Case High School Business Co-Op Students Thrive at JA Business Challenge

Academic and real-world experiences prepared them.

Balancing academic perspectives with real-world experiences has paid off for three business co-op students from J.I. Case High School in Mount Pleasant. Seniors Adam Olszewski, Logan Johnson and Ian Howland qualified for the State Competition level of the Junior Achievement Business Challenge, hosted March 10 at Gateway Technical College.

“They’ve done everything right,” said Sherry Degerman, business occupations coordinator at Case High School, referring to the students’ efforts of studying business curriculum and working as interns at CNH as well.

“This was a challenging, competitive event,” she continued. “They were presented with real-world examples of manufacturing and marketing a product, which allowed students to apply their management skills and knowledge of economics.”

Olszewski explained how the performance index of the competition worked.

“Every team had control of the same variables; price, production, marketing, research and development, and capital investment,” he said. “Increasing capital investment increased production capacity, which, in turn, allowed you to produce more and for (less cost).”

Prices naturally affect sales, he noted, so excessive price levels turned customers away, leaving the mock businesses with too much inventory.

“If you had too low of a price you would have more orders than you could make and be left with a deficit,” he said. “Marketing affected your demand short term, where as research-and-development affected it long term. All of these factors affected net profit and performance index, on which the challenge is based.”

Eighteen teams of three members each competed in the interactive, web-based business strategy tournament. They had opportunities to work with business professionals during the event, and Adam said that also benefits him in his role at CNH.

“Working at CNH has provided us with real-world experience and taught us about various decisions real businesses have to make,” he said, adding the academic perspective is also invaluable. “School has taught us more hypothetical work, which really helped considering the simulation was, in and of itself, hypothetical.”

People skills pull it all together, he emphasized, noting the various strengths of the team members were vital to their success.

“All three of us gave something unique to the team and helped us make great business decisions and keep each other in check,” he said. “I believe that is always a good combination to have in an actual business to make sure things stay balance, and not just one person makes all the decisions. It is important to acknowledge other’s points and views to round out your business plan and ensure you have a safe plan to keep your business on track.”

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