As coronavirus has been upending the educational institutions in Finland, high schools have not been an exception. While teachers have been exploring innovative ways to keep their students engaged, Aalto University Junior's School of Business team decided to co-organize an online business camp for high school students over the weekend of 8–9 May.
Recently joined under Aalto Junior umbrella, Aalto Junior's School of Business arm aims to support younger generations’ lifewide learning journey. It creates awareness in business studies by providing learning opportunities, and fostering two-way dialogue between youngsters and the School of Business.
‘We started our activities at the beginning of this year with on-campus workshops. But these exceptional times quickly turned us to develop digital collaborations with teachers,’ says Semih Ersöz, Aalto Junior BIZ Coordinator and a School of Business alumnus of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management program.
Building the businesses of the future with surprise guests on the way
In collaboration with Etu-Töölö High School, Vihti High School, and Junior Achievement Finland, the 24-hour online camp was aimed to inspire more than 80 high school students to build their business ideas.
‘The purpose was to show young students that they have great ideas and learning in groups is fun. This was meant to be just the taste of entrepreneurship for 24 hours,’ said Jenni Korte, entrepreneurship teacher at Etu-Töölö high school.
‘The students learnt sales and teamwork skills, problem-solving and performance skills. Interactive group learning applied at the camp was the key to a successful camp experience,’ added Eeva Korhonen from Junior Achievement Finland (JA Finland).
Participants were divided into 10 teams with more experienced high school students assigned as tutors. Throughout the 24-hour-camp, the teams went through various checkpoints which guided them to move their business ideas forward. While some of the checkpoints were instructed by teachers, others were co-designed and instructed by Aalto students from different backgrounds.
There were also surprises with guest speakers. At the end of the first day, Jethro Rostedt, a TV-celebrity and a famous real-estate agent, joined for a quick motivation talk as a surprise guest. Following Jethro, Julian Gröndahl who is a BSc student at the economics, joined as a US-based venture capitalist. She negotiated an investment deal with each of the teams in English.
On the second day, Dr. Jukka-Pekka Heikkilä from the School of Business gave an engaging keynote speech to inspire students about entrepreneurship in extreme contexts.
‘My favorite part was the guests and special things. Overall it was a great experience. It was the first camp to be hosted online, and I think it worked great,’ wrote one of the high school students on the feedback form.
A final pitching session at the end
At the end of the camp, teams had a final pitching session with their commercial video and a short presentation.
‘Obviously one of the main outcomes was an inspiration for participants but I think it goes beyond there where the majority of the early stages ideas were feasible and few are actually ready for entrepreneurial action,’ said Jukka-Pekka Heikkilä who was one of the judges.
Linda Hemmann, one of the Aalto students instructing the lean canvas checkpoint, said that in her opinion the teams which had fun together also came up with the most surprising new ideas and then developed those ideas into realistic business opportunities. She is studying mathematics and systems analysis with a minor in industrial management.
Teachers were also very happy with high schoolers' feedback. ‘One girl told me that she was not so interested before the camp but then it turned out to be an awesome experience,’ shared Kristina Laine from Etu-Töölö high school. ‘The final result was much more I could ever imagine beforehand. It was absolutely great,’ added teacher Oskari Ropponen from Vihti high school.
The collaboration between the School of Business and high schools was highly appreciated by the teachers.
‘We would not have even started this if there was no opportunity to get Aalto involved, said Jenni Korte. ‘The technologies and the high-quality tasks from Aalto Junior was really a big thing, and the team, of course, it was super.’ Similar feedback was received from JA Finland team: ‘This is now how it should be done annually even a few times a year. Young people working with young people,’ states Eeva Korhonen.
After receiving such positive feedback from the participants and co-organizers, Aalto Junior School of Business team has decided to organize another online business camp between 8–11 June, and it will be free for all high school students.
‘This is definitely a great opportunity for high schoolers who want to explore entrepreneurship within Aalto ecosystem,’ says Semih Ersöz. ‘We are waiting for applications from all around Finland.’
Online business camp on 8–11 June
Aalto University Junior School of Business Arm:
BIZ Coordinator Semih Ersöz
tel. +358 41 757 8824
Aalto University Junior: