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Saturday, July 21, 2012

My Experience at the Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week

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The Cellero Team
I had the honor of spending this week at Lycoming College, where I was given the chance to meet new people, learn how to run a business, and hear some of the most motivational speakers in my life.  I was given this exciting opportunity through the generous contribution of Wheeler Brothers, a local business in my area that I cannot thank enough for paying my tuition.

I arrived at the Lycoming College campus on Sunday.  As a small liberal arts school, Lycoming had the great traditional scenery of most college campuses, and I knew that the next week would be an exciting one. 

A few hours after arriving, I entered a room where I would meet my new company.  Around twenty unfamiliar strangers entered the room, but I knew that they all had one thing in common with myself: they cared enough about business and their future to take a week out of their summer to attend a business camp.  Jim Mattern, our new company advisor who had experience running four businesses greeted us.  He started the meeting with a few games intended for us to learn about each other.  I soon found out that these students had much more in common with me than I previously believed.  In addition to meeting these great people, we were told that we would be producing a product in the cellphone industry.

Sunday evening, we had our first team experience: junk night.  Junk night involved strategically choosing pieces of junk to invent a new product.  If the product we created ever hits the market, it will be a complete success.  After all, who wouldn’t want a swinging bicycle with a laser gun?  

The majority of our Monday involved learning how to use the business simulation software that would allow us to finance our company.  CFO Joseph Giedgowd of Buyer’s Choice did a great job explaining the work behind this software.  After learning from him, we then went to our group meetings, where we made our first quarter decision.  Throughout the length of the program, we made twelve quarter decisions, simulating the financing of our company for three years.  Later in the day, we had Mr. Robert E. Merril, the CEO of CraftMaster, discuss what was involved in running a business.  I found this extremely exciting, as my dream is to someday become a CEO of a major technology corporation.

Tuesday was the day when the excitement began to grow.  We now had a company that we formed yesterday: Cellero.  The name was derived from the latin word celero, meaning speed.  We formed finance and advertising groups to prepare our products.  I took part in the finance group, helping to make crucial decisions on spending each quarter.

Tuesday may have been one of the most beneficial days in my life, because I heard many of the best speakers that I have ever heard.  Jeff Yalden was definitely the most inspiring, as he used his life experiences to show us that we did not need to care what other people think and that we should simply be ourselves.  He stressed that we should have no regrets at the end of the day.  After possibly the greatest speech that I had ever heard, I had the honor of meeting him (and purchasing a great t-shirt).  He, along with every other speaker, spoke to us for no cost.  All of the speakers cared very deeply about leaving an impression on us.  Jeff Yalden donated all the money raised from his t-shirts to battle cancer, leaving himself no profits.

Picture with Jeff Yalden
Our company advisor, Jim, gave a great speech, explaining that to be successful, we must overcome hardships.  Matthew Brouillette of the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives did a great job explaining the importance of the free enterprise system and minimal government involvement.  Dean McKnight, a former senior vice president of M&T, explained the importance of investments and showed that not all of those involved in the financial industry are as greedy as the media portrays them.

Tuesday (and the rest of the week) did not only involve business, however.  Each day, we competed in volleyball tournaments (formally arranged and during our free time).  We also got the chance to take part in daily campus life by hanging out in the lounges, playing sports, and “partying” on the steps.

After three packed days, Wednesday included many more breaks.  We heard two speeches from Mr. Morrison and Mr. Kovski, explaining to us what is involved in gaining and keeping a job.  In addition to these speeches, we continued to run our company and took part in a business ethics debate.  Wednesday evening was great.  We were given the opportunity to swim in Lycoming’s great lap pool and play basketball with our friends.

Thursday was the busiest day of the week as we prepared to give our presentations the following day.  We finished preparing both a stockholder’s presentation and an advertising presentation.  We listened to an extremely inspiring life story from Robb Armstrong, who is now the most famous African American cartoonist for newspapers in the world.  We then spent the rest of the day (until 10:45!) preparing our presentations.

Friday was the final day in our business excursion.  We had our final company meeting, and everyone in the room was now sad that they might never see the members of their company again.  On Sunday, we were all strangers, but by now, we had become an extremely close company.  We felt a friendship as if we had known one another much longer.  After a very photographic meeting, we then presented our stockholder’s presentation.  I had a huge part in explaining the financial aspects of our business.  We then went to the auditorium, where the advertising committee presented a great speech and memorable commercials. 

The day concluded with the closing banquet and dance.  We did not win the overall best company or any of the major awards, but we all had such a great experience that it really didn’t make a difference.  We could have taken home every award, but we still would not have learned anything more than we did or had a different relationship with the members of our company.  After our last supper, we made our way to the dance, a major highlight of our week. Held in the lounge, nearly everyone attended and the dance floor was packed. 

While I know that this summary of my week is extremely long, I could have actually made it much longer.  During the entirety of the week, we were involved in so many activities that it flew by.  I met so many incredible people that if I mentioned each and every one of them in this post, it would probably be twice as long.  I had an amazing week and once again thank Wheeler Brother’s and everyone that contributed to making this week happen.  I would recommend this week to anyone who wants to learn for success, meet new people, or experience campus life.  If you are a junior or senior that successfully read this huge summarization of my week without boredom, then you must sign up next year as soon as possible!
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  1. I would like to go to this program over the summer. I've been researching to see what its all about. But I would like to know why the website doesn't show a list of all the businesses that sponsored it. Is this program just them trying to get you to attend their college? If you know of a list of sponsors could you reply with a link? Please reply back. Thank you.

  2. No, the objective of PFEW is definitely not to get you to go to Lycoming College or Penn Tech. Those are just the hosting locations. PFEW itself is an independent organization, funded mostly by Pennsylvania business owners. If you attend, they should give you a paper saying the business that sponsored you, so you can write a thank you letter. Lycoming offers scholarships to PFEW attendants, but it is simply the venue for the event. I am currently at Carnegie Mellon University, and I loved my PFEW experience. It really had nothing to do with whether or not I wanted to go to Lycoming or Penn Tech. For what I wanted to do, neither college really applied.

  3. Thank you, my Dad was asking me about all the sponsors. But I sent in an application, I can't wait to go! I think it'll be a great experience.

  4. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhmigawwwwdd!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so excited about PFEW this year!!! Do you think they'll accept me? I am currently a junior (a bit young I know) and I have taken 9 AP courses (they were so haaarrrrrrrdddddddd). I'm not sure if I should be taking so many, the course load is not healthy for me but I think I can handle it. Also, I have a 4.8 weighted GPA (I'm not sure if that's good enough, should I work on that?). Also, I am planning to apply to a good college. Is Carnegie Mellon any good at women's studies?



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