We were thrilled to launch the virtual Minnesota Business Venture program (eMBV) today! At 9 o’clock this morning, around 200 students, along with eMBV staff and student leaders, opened their electronic devices to officially begin their journey with eMBV. Although this year’s Minnesota Business Venture is not being held in-person due to the challenges presented by the current pandemic, we are nevertheless excited for the upcoming opportunities and events of BestPrep’s first-ever eMBV!
The students kicked off their eMBV experience with a keynote speech from Stephen Weatherly, a defensive end for the Carolina Panthers. His message encouraged students to pursue their dreams, regardless of their origins. Weatherly shared his own story about beginning his football career on the practice squad and slowly moving up the ranks, until he eventually attained a starter position on the team. Weatherly encouraged the students to “start by saying ‘that’s what I want’, and then breaking it down into conquerable parts: the next thing you know, you’re halfway there. That’s how I attack a lot of things.” He finished by affirming that, with hard work and the right mindset, so much can be accomplished: “If it’s something you truly want and desire… if you put your mind to it, you will achieve.”
After that, students were split into companies, their assigned team for the week. Each company includes approximately ten to fifteen students, a CEO, and a Residential Business Leader (RBL). Company members spent some time getting acquainted with icebreaker games. It was great to see individuals from across Minnesota coming together and forming connections!
After a short break, students returned to attend the career skills breakout sessions. These sessions covered a variety of topics, including critical 21st century job skills, interviewing skills, online meeting etiquette, and resume-building. We were fortunate to receive this valuable advice from representatives of 3M, Cargill, General Mills, and Next Steps 2 Success.
Later, eMBV students and staff regrouped to hear from another keynote speaker: Benjamin VandenWymelenberg from Woodchuck USA. VandenWymelenberg stressed the importance of interacting with people who are supportive of your goals, saying, “You pick your future by surrounding yourself with the right people.” He encouraged students to write down a list of the five people they spend the most time with and asked them to consider whether these five people are consistently helpful or inspiring towards meeting their goals. VandenWymelenberg ended his message by advising students to remain consciously aware of who they surround themselves with, while reminding them that it is always possible to improve the list.
The next speaker was Claire Haidar, the CEO and founder of WNYDR. She gave an excellent presentation regarding the fast-paced and complex world we are living in today: “As we are moving into the future, we are moving into a more and more chaotic environment. Chaos is simply a highly, highly networked environment. Think of a space with lots and lots of connections, all moving in that environment.” Haidar urged students to focus on creativity and critical thinking, two skills necessary for future work. She concluded by reminding students, “At the moment it may feel really stressful. Lean in, take it, and I promise it will be okay.”
We were fortunate to finish off the day by hearing from a couple celebrities! Garland Hill, a senior director of TikTok, told his story of working for several different companies before finding his passion with TikTok. Hill gave students some words of wisdom: “I would encourage you to attach yourself to individuals who push you to your limits.” Caroline Wanga, the interim CEO of Essence Ventures, reminded students that it’s possible to rise up from challenges. As an immigrant from Kenya, Wanga shared that her adolescent years were not easy, but she ultimately succeeded as a result of her passion and grit.
What a wonderful way to wrap up our first day of eMBV! We can’t wait to see everyone tomorrow!