Event Recap: 'Exploring Business in High School' - GFB CON 2022

Written by Andrea Volkodav on Saturday, 03 September 2022. Posted in Event Recap

Graphic by Lily Wei for Girls For Business


Exploring Business in High School was a panel that took place at 2022 GFB CON. This panel featured GFB’s founders, Rachel Wang, Ivy Shi, and Sophia Shiu. It explored the utility of cold-emailing⁣, business clubs, competitions, and student organizations in HS⁣, as well as developing technical and soft skillset foundations⁣.

After a brief introduction to the event, panelists Rachel Wang, Ivy Shi, and Sophia Shiu shared some things about themselves and talked about some of their experiences.

Rachel Wang is the founder and executive director of Girls For Business. She co-founded Girls For Business with Sophia and Ivy in 2020, and is involved with DECA; this year she is the Maryland DECA state President. She serves as a finance intern at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and has also worked as a research assistant at the UPenn Wharton School of Business. She also has experience with business development and as a marketing intern for a small business.

Sophia Shiu is a co-founder and co-director of operations of Girls For Business. She is also an operations assistant at BuenoSchonig Consulting, as well as an advisor at UDC International Business and Global Entrepreneurship Camp. At the Women’s Entrepreneur International, she was a creative design intern and is the director of finance at The 2am Post. 

Ivy Shi is also one of the co-founders and co-directors of operations of Girls For Business. She is currently a UWC boarding school student in Hong Kong. In the past year, she has worked as a Research assistant in the artificial intelligence and IOT lab of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. In addition, she has also worked as a research assistant at the CRL of Michigan State University, and is currently a leader of Social Innovation Network Group (LPCUWC). At her school, she involves herself with her community by starting and leading an official programming club at her school.

 

Panel Discussion:

Q: How can you best take advantage of your senior year in the realm of business?

Rachel Wang believes that in your senior year, it's most important to seek professional involvements while balancing college applications. Her personal plans for senior year include continuing on a research internship while also juggling planning for her future in which she hopes to pursue business. For involvement at the professional level, Wang recommends contacting startups in your area and local small businesses to help gain immediate professional experiences. 

Ivy Shi adds that cold emailing is a good way to gain research opportunities for high school students—don’t be afraid to search up a faculty list for different universities and send out emails! It may take a lot of emails to get a response but don’t lose hope. For senior year specifically, the time after college applications is really key to seeking out more professional experience. From January to August is a good time to get into research, get into internships, or maybe even create your own startup.

Sophia Shiu feels that getting a job is great because it's in person and you get to see how a business is run no matter what type of job it is. On top of cold emailing, she notes that it's important to reach out to startups and small businesses to gain more in person experience. You can always ask for an internship or just to shadow someone to see what it's like to lead a business. 

Q: How to get more involved in school clubs and internships in high school, as well as how to seek out opportunities that demonstrate your passion with minimal experience?

Sophia Shiu explains that when you cold email, most of the time people won’t expect you to have a lot of experience if you say that you are a high schooler. Just showing that you are passionate and willing to learn can help to get opportunities with little experience. Participating in business clubs like DECA or FBLA, where they have a lot of resources to teach you about cold emailing or how to get an internship, can help to get you more involved. 

Ivy Shi mentions that at the beginning, connections can be important because you never know what opportunities you already have in your network. As for high school clubs, business clubs like DECA and FBLA are good. However, for international students there may be a lack of business clubs, so don’t hesitate to start up your own club based on an interest. 

Rachel Wang adds that clubs are a good way to initially immerse yourself into business because there isn’t a lot of traditional school curriculum that covers business. As well as DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America), FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America), and BPA (Business Professionals for America),  she recommends checking to see if your school has more niche clubs such as an economics club. Freshman and sophomore year is a great time to get into business clubs and really learn more about what a business is, while junior and senior year is an ideal time for immersing oneself in professional experiences and planning out a future in business. 

Q: What are some of the ways to find out which areas of business to study in college?

Ivy Shi believes it isn’t really necessary to know what sector of business you want to study before college, because you will get to explore the different sectors in college. If you want to find what area of business to study, business clubs and professional opportunities are a good way to see the different sectors that you can later study in college.

Rachel Wang explains that student organizations are also a great resource if you are just starting out. Getting into a local student based organization or non-profit such as GFB, you can explore a lot of different positions because there are so many diverse roles that you can involve yourself in. Additionally, there are a lot of positions related to public relations and outreach writing, and a lot of areas to build up soft skills and core skills before you take the next step.

Sophia Shi mentions that using connections is a great way to learn about the different sectors of business. Researching about different majors can also be helpful because you can learn what types of majors would prepare you the best for a certain type of job.

Q: What is one of the most highly valued skills to develop at a young age going into business?

In high school, Ivy Shi believes that developing technical skills will benefit you as you are cold emailing and seeking out opportunities. Taking external classes you can find online and even app classes can help to gain skills. Technical skills can involve data analytics skills, and having those skills gives the people you are cold emailing to a reason to recruit you. Another highly valued skill is public speaking, and getting more comfortable reaching out to people that you don’t know. Reaching out on Linkedin as well as doing interviews can help improve such skills.

Sophia Shiu explains how soft skills are really important for freshman or sophomores because you don’t have a lot of experience, so you have to sell yourself through passion and the fact that you are willing to learn things. Shiu highlights how being able to communicate what you want them to know about you is another crucial skill. 

Rachel Wang stresses the importance of developing personal relations with others. Highly valued skills are your outreach skills, confidently presenting and developing your voice.

Q: What were some of the challenges faced as founders of a student non-profit?

Sophia Shiu feels that timing was a challenge because there was no shortage of things to talk about, so just time management and efficient planning were a bit of a struggle in the beginning. Clear communication is important as well to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

Rachel Wang adds that in the beginning, clear communication in the team and having a common vision was really important to be able to better devote resources. Taking everything one step at a time and talking it out with your team members is really good to establish a clear vision.

Ivy Shi continues by explaining how establishing a boundary between being friendly and being authoritative, especially in high school, is quite difficult to do. A lot of the time you're utilizing connections, so a lot of people within the team might already know each other and in these moments like it's important to establish that while you can be friendly with each other it's important to set boundaries and authoritative guidelines to everyone's role.

Q: What resources or platforms have helped you the most during high school, or just as young entrepreneurs?

Sophia Shiu believes Tik Tok and Instagram have been really helpful because organizations all promote on social media platforms, so you can learn more about them on social media. Another good platform is Linkedin because you get to connect to people, ask them questions one-on-one, and just have a more in-depth conversation with professionals and college students; this can help to just learn more about real world experiences and also what they do during their daily tasks for their jobs. 

Rachel Wang explains how Linkedin has been the most helpful in learning more about careers, and creating one can help to connect with other high school students and people with like-minded business aspirations. You can schedule coffee chats on Linkedin; these calls are great to immerse yourself in someone’s professional journey. 

Ivy Shi adds how Slack is another great resource that is essentially a more professional version of Linkedin, where communities form various channels and people can talk about opportunities, as well as get the chance to network. You can share opportunities in the business field and just learn more about business and get to know people. Another platform is Slingshot, a tech internship website where you can apply for jobs using your technical skills.

 

Thank you to our panelists, panelists Rachel Wang, Ivy Shi, and Sophia Shiu for sharing how to seek out business-related opportunities in high school! The scope of topics covered ranged from internships to finding jobs, and from joining school clubs to launching your own business.

About the Author

Andrea Volkodav

Andrea Volkodav

Andrea is a Business Education Writer at Girls For Business.

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