The South Pasadena High School Virtual Enterprise varsity team iKOMO pose in front of its trade fair booth during the state competition in Bakersfield, Jan. 16-17. Photo courtesy of iKOMO

Payroll, human resources, expenses: it can be an intimidating prospect for students to transition from high school to college and the business environment. At South Pasadena High School, however, students are getting a head start on the process by experiencing the workplace in the classroom.

For the past 22 years, So Pas High has collaborated with Virtual Enterprise International, an educational nonprofit, to organize real-life simulations of the business world environment. It isn’t simply a video game either. Students at So Pas develop business plans, participate in virtual commerce and compete against other schools in three Virtual Enterprise teams: intro, junior varsity and varsity.

At the California State conference in Bakersfield held Jan. 16 and 17, the varsity’s business plan team placed sixth in the state. Next for the team is a national competition, which will be held in New York City in April.

Junior Chloe Lovejoy joined the varsity team after hearing from some of her classmates how much they enjoyed the program. Prior to participating, she admitted she didn’t know much about the business world or what it took to be part of a corporate structure. Now she serves as the newsletter editor in human resources, one of seven departments within her team led by student executive officers. Other departments include finance, sales, technology, game design and marketing.
“We just benefit the entire company culture, which has been really cool for me to learn about as well,” Lovejoy said.

Lovejoy’s team is organized around a singular virtual business venture it named iKOMO, which “sells” digital collectable pets on a website platform utilizing virtual dollars. Centered on this goal, the team crafts business plans and works together to complete day-to-day operations such as paying rent, utilities, payroll, taxes and purchasing any items necessary for business development from other virtual firms in the Virtual Enterprise International network. Senior Danielle Choy serves as CEO and Cathy Mason is the teacher supervisor.

The junior varsity team’s business is PIX, which sells polaroid cameras, and the intro team’s business is Lunch Box, which focuses on selling vending machines that offer healthy lunches.   

“It’s a lot of collaboration,” explained Lovejoy. “You learn really good public speaking and orating skills.”

By working together with other students and learning the nuances of how all parts of a business come together to make a successful venture, Lovejoy feels the Virtual Business Enterprise experience has given her more confidence and clarity to craft a successful career.  
“The biggest thing I’ve taken away from it is just being more prepared for my future career, whatever that may be,” shared Lovejoy. “Even if it isn’t necessarily in HR or part of a corporate structure, I feel more adequately prepared for my job future.”

Skye Hannah, Senior Reporter
Author

Skye Hannah is a senior reporter for the South Pasadena Review and the San Marino Tribune, covering education, features and civic issues. Skye previously served as an award-winning senior staff photojournalist and staff writer covering education, business, crime, sports, features and civic issues for the Rome News-Tribune in Rome, Georgia. A native of Dallas, Texas, she is an avid cyclist, enthusiastic outdoorswoman, and has been known to drop “y’all” in conversation. You can reach Skye at shannah@gavilanmedia.com.

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