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Rutgers Business School hosts annual summer camp, helps high school students

The Rutgers Business School helped local students learn about topics from finance to networking over the course of two weeks this summer. – Photo by The Daily Targum

The Rutgers Business School hosted 90 local high school students for a two-week camp this summer, providing both an academic and practical firsthand look into the world of business. 

Now in its fifth year, students at the camp studied a wide variety of professions, including marketing, financing, accounting, managing and business analytics information technology (BAIT). 

Ronald Richter, an assistant professor of Professional Practice at Rutgers Business School, co-created the program with other members of the department. Richter, who is also a former high school teacher, said he saw an opportunity to host a summer camp on Livingston campus after the new business school building was built. 

It is important to give students a glimpse into both the industry and life at college, he said.

“I really wanted to keep the kids on campus, to let them know how this all goes down in the real world when you study this,” Richter said. “We’ve really seen this grow in popularity. The first year we had 18 campers, and five years later we had 90. We had to expand the camp from one week to two just to keep up.”

At the camp, students engage in different challenges, as well as three field trips per week. They often participate in a "Shark Tank" style competition, Richter said. They are put in groups and do team-building exercises, with help from the learning and experiential group from Cook/Douglass campus. Teams then have to develop a business proposal, while factoring in specific details that Richter said are essential in the field.

At the end of the week, students make their final presentation in front of their parents and other Rutgers Business School students and faculty. They receive prizes and get to make their first real business proposition, Richter said.

“Students have to take into account things like 'who is your target market, what the value proposition of their service is?'" he said. "They also have to come up with a business plan and a solid pitch.” 

The camp counselors are mostly Rutgers students, as well as other professors and faculty in the department. Campers stay in the Livingston Apartments, where a lot of the activities take place.  

Every summer, the camp hosts a guest speaker for the attendees — the most recent being the CEO of a Chick-fil-A franchise in Woodbridge, New Jersey, who spoke to the students about how his branch runs its operation. 

Some of the campers, most of which are high school juniors and seniors, might come to Rutgers in the future, Richter said. Certain students expressed interest in the Rutgers Business School. 

“One of the benefits of the camp is that most people from New Jersey view Rutgers as a ‘backup school,’ just an extension of their own high school," he said. "But, when they come here they can really understand how different high school really is from a college. The hopes are to showcase the school, and it seems like it's working pretty well.”

Networking, a lesson that Richter emphasizes to both his students and his campers as the greatest asset you can have going into any profession, is one of the most important lessons the camp offers, he said.

“I always tell students, just keep talking to people in order to figure out your career," Richter said. "If you want to drive your career, you need to experience new things and talk to people, and that's what this camp allows students to do, both of those things. At the end of their camp experience, I hope that everyone makes at least 90 different forms of connections that they can then use to drive a career.”

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