High School of Business™ (HSB) alumni share their stories and experiences in this project-based program, and how it helped them prepare for their future—in college, career, and beyond.
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Leipsic High School, ’12
Bowling Green State University, ’15
How did High School of Business (HSB) contribute to your career plans and goals?
Through the HSB program, I was given college credits, which allowed me to graduate a semester early. My observational internship allowed me to network with people in different areas of business and helped me narrow my focus to human resources.
Did the college credit from HSB influence your decision to attend Bowling Green State University, an HSB-affiliated college? Or did you already have BGSU in mind and the college credit was an extra incentive?
Bowling Green has a wonderful business program, so that was a contributing factor. But when I learned I could get college credits [from HSB] in addition, it was icing on the cake at that point.
You said your observational internship allowed you to network and narrow your focus to human resources. Can you describe your observational internship experience?
I ended up doing my internship at Cooper Tire in Findlay (OH). I got to see human resources, procurement, and met with their lean Six Sigma person. So I got to see a little bit of everything: finance, quality control, customer service, and more.
What kind of advantages do you think HSB gave you over your peers in the same industry?
HSB helped me to start thinking outside the box which is very important in my vocation. The program also helped me work well with others, brainstorm, and delegate tasks.
Do you think your plans after high school would have been different if you weren’t in HSB?
Yes. My eighth grade year going into freshman year of high school, I thought I’d be interested in the medical field. My dad’s a farmer, so he kind of drilled business into me from a young age, and I thought I wouldn’t like it. But I decided to give HSB a chance — so I did it for one year and I kind of got addicted. I continued and ended up completing all years of the program.
How did you hear about HSB and what was the “addictive” part about it that made you stick to the program?
I joined it because my guidance counselor at the time pulled me in and said I’d be a great fit for it and asked me to give it a year, give it a chance. It’s something that’s unique in that it’s project based, so I got to really work with my classmates and work together toward common goals. The activity aspect was something I enjoyed.
Did you feel like any of the skills you learned in HSB transferred to your other high school classes, like English or math? If so, how?
Wealth management definitely helped with my math classes. Some of the things we were learning in my math class we were also learning about in HSB. I think a lot of them happened at different times throughout my high school career, so they were refreshers in my other classes.
Do you remember your favorite HSB project of all time?
We had a scavenger hunt around Leipsic (OH). We got the whole community involved and the local businesses let us have our own mini ships at their locations. As other students came by, we gave them an item to prove that they were there. I remember going back to the school and all of these students being super excited and kind of exhausted because we had them running around town for this hunt. It was a lot of fun for both me and the community. The businesses around Leipsic were generous with their help, whether that be financially, with their time, or just offering their spaces.
Any final thoughts about HSB you’d like to share?
HSB really gave me that great foundation that helped me throughout college. Also being able to graduate a semester early really helped me start my career because I think the job market isn’t as competitive when you graduate in December vs. May, so it gave me a little leg up there. I really enjoyed HSB and hope other students have that opportunity as well.
Washington High School, ’19
How did you hear about High School of Business (HSB) and what made you stick with and complete the program?
I heard about HSB through David Penwell, my teacher. In eighth grade, we were signing up for classes and I saw business was offered, so I chose that. Didn’t know how much fun I would have later. I did [the first freshman class] and we were learning the HSB curriculum. What kept me in the program was all the knowledge I was gaining through the program. A lot of business language I didn’t know before taking HSB, and it was the first time I was exposed with that. DECA also kept me in HSB as well; being able to apply business knowledge to DECA competitions.
Can you describe your DECA experience? How did HSB prep you for DECA competitions?
Every time I entered a DECA competition, I tried to apply it to what I learned in my HSB classes. For example, I tried to apply my knowledge from my economics class to the sports management [DECA] event. That’s been what I’ve been doing throughout all my DECA competitions: taking what I learned in class and applying in the competitions — finance, economics, marketing, business administration. Essentially, just leveling up and tying things together. That’s where you start to make sense and be able to articulate lessons.
What are your career plans and goals? How did HSB contribute to these?
I want to be an entrepreneur at some point in my life and that interest was built by HSB. And it has never left. Business fascinates me and at some point in my life I want to add innovation into the marketplace.
You’re currently a neuroscience major. What kind of overlap do you see with your major and HSB? Is there anything that you learned in HSB that you apply to your major and the classes related to your major?
HSB has sort of helped me figure out what I want to do. When I first got to college, I was in pre-med. But HSB has left this lingering feeling of business in me that I like and find myself naturally gravitating toward. I’m president of a startup club [at Ohio State University]. This year has been a very explorative time in my life regarding my future. Is it to go to pre-med or something else? Right now, I’ve been interested in business and law. Recently I spoke with a business attorney and learned about her job, and it sounded like something I really wanted to do.
I can see in my intro to psychology class just how visuals can persuade or dissuade people. The class wasn’t necessarily tied to marketing, but branding and marketing are related to the psyche people are experiencing when they see something. What message are you trying to convey when you show someone something? I already had a baseline of this concept through my HSB marketing class. Next semester I’ll be taking a neuroeconomics class.
Can you describe the startup club you’re a part of?
I’m president of D3, a startup entrepreneurial club at Ohio State. Students apply and we try to get the best quality kids who are interested in entrepreneurship and startup. We then have this cohort of students and let them air out ideas that they want to work on. Everyone builds their own team and assigns roles, and throughout the whole semester, they build a minimum viable product (MVP) for Demo Night. Demo Night is where they get to show off their ideas to various people in the audience—professors, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs—and get the experience of what it’s like to work on and pitch an idea. What I do in a leadership role is make sure they get the fundamental business knowledge—about making a business model, branding, pitching—and there are resources we can use on campus as well as mentors.
What kind of impact did HSB have outside of your classroom?
I think HSB made a big impact in how my school thought about accolades. Usually accolades that were honored in my school, for the most part, were athletics. But HSB made academic ones just as important
Can you expand on that? What kind of accolades are you referring to at your school? Or maybe it’s just the way your school recognizes HSB and HSB students?
It’s interesting to see the progression of the recognition HSB students have gotten through DECA. It’s really paved by kids excelling year after year, a handful of HSB kids going to state. So DECA and HSB became more notable in the community because students were being recognized in the local newspaper. And usually it’s sports being recognized. But because students are excelling, it puts the program on the map. That’s changed how the school recognizes academic accolades aside from honor roll where it’s an academic competition about business acumen. In the ceremony at our school that honors students’ accomplishments, it used to only recognize accomplished students in sports but now includes accomplished students in DECA.
Were there any ways you saw HSB making an impact in your community?
We do a bake sale fundraiser with a women’s association and helped with operations. Other things we did in the community included helping at concession stands and community volunteering. Philanthropy is a big part of HSB and business in general. You receive your notoriety but also pay your respect.
Can you talk a little bit about the class environment of HSB at your school? What are the benefits for students within that type of classroom? Was that unique from other classes at the school?
My teacher Mr. Penwell was definitely a big part of building a club atmosphere, just himself and his personality. What we learned from him was you can have fun but you have to make sure you do your work. And we did a lot of group stuff. It was one of the few classes you do a lot of group project, and that’s how you get that club atmosphere. We’re always working on projects, so even though he’ll be teaching a lesson, he would tie it to an upcoming project. Always having that reinforcement that what we’re learning is for a project and something that we’re actually going to do is what created that buzz. It’s hard to create buzz when the reinforcement is just a test. You create that buzz with something engaging. When you put something in application, you lessen the stress of memorization. When you apply concepts, you learn what it means in a practical sense and can put it in your own words.
Why should schools consider the HSB program?
Schools should consider HSB because it gives kids an opportunity to learn practical skills that will benefit them in the future. It also gives academic achievements a spotlight that sometimes gets overshadowed by athletic achievements.
Waverly-Shell Rock High School, ’19
How do you think High School of Business (HSB) prepared you for college? What kind of advantages do you think it gave you over your college peers?
HSB is different that a normal high school class. The curriculum is engaging and challenging. Everything I learned in HSB is being applied to my daily life and it has saved me a lot of money in college [through dual credit]. My advantage over my peers is that I got to take these HSB classes as exposure to college and it has helped me excel through all of my classes.
Can you elaborate more on how HSB has helped you excel in your college classes?
The HSB curriculum lines up perfectly with Hawk Eye Community college where I started at [in 2020]. The curriculum is rigorous — it was hard, it was challenging, but it ultimately taught me how to listen to lectures, do projects on my own, and really just fit the framework of what I was going in to. I feel like other high school levels only go to a certain level and HSB surpasses that level. I always felt that we were learning something really important and that we were always really productive.
Did you make any long-lasting connections in HSB (i.e., local business professionals or anyone else)?
One of the biggest things I learned in HSB was community connection, and interacting with the people that make your community go round. I got to interact with so many community members — whether through community service projects, observational internships, or just insight from the community. We had free time in class to be able to reach out to people like the Chamber of Commerce and Hawk Eye professors. That was the coolest part because normally you’re not doing a lot of outside interaction in your high school class — usually you’re in class following your textbook.
I worked really closely with our Chamber of Commerce to help with business engagement and making connections with community members and informing those relationships. I still talk to [the Chamber of Commerce president] today and check in every so often. It’s really exciting that I got to form that relationship while in HSB.
Like I said, I got to interact with professors at my local community college, and when I got to Hawk Eye for my first year I already knew a lot of the people there and that created a sort of comfort going into my first year of college. It provided me with a sense of confidence and made it even easier for me to be a successful student.
You’re still in college and plan to graduate in 2022. However, you’re already working full time as an HR specialist recruiter for Montana Department of Transportation. Can you describe what that experience is like?
I’m hiring people, I’m working with union contracts, creating process that are streamlined, and then once I get home after [working from] 7:00am to 3:30pm, I sit down to do homework for a few hours and I listen to my online lectures. I know that I love to work and I like to apply what I’m learning. In fact I’m taking a benefits and compensation class right now and every discussion that I’m involved with I’m actually doing at work and making that connection. So I’m actually getting to apply knowledge in both situations. It’s challenging at times but I’m just really glad Upper Iowa, where I’m currently enrolled, provides you that opportunity to work full time and also do school. It’s the best of both worlds.
Would you say HSB helped you get the job you have now or into college?
100 percent. We started a coffee shop my senior year of high school and we were all sitting down and deciding who would be CEO, who would be financial officer, who would be HR. And I’m sitting there, thinking “HR. I know a little bit about it but no one else is volunteering for the position.” So I said to my teacher, “OK, I will be the human resources manager.” And when I say it opened a door for me, it opened a door for me. I was reading up about HR, I was getting to train my classmates on how to run a coffee shop, holding mock interviews and having them submit applications to work for us. I’ve always loved working with people but being able to apply what I learned in the HSB class was so exciting. So I kind of took it and ran with it.
Another nice thing about HSB is that it ties to DECA — the tests that we take are very similar to the tests we take at the end of the course in HSB. And let me tell you, I was prepared for both because of all the content aligns and there’s so many tools that helped me be an even student and HR professional that I am now. And ever since then, I knew my heart was set on HR. HSB is probably the biggest reason why I’m in HR today.
The job I have now was actually a temporary position and then they decided they wanted it to be full time. And the question they asked me is why are you picking HR? And most people don’t just pick HR, it picks them. So I said we started a coffee shop at my high school business program and it just opened the door for me and my experiences. And it was really exciting for them to hear how I got to where I am today and I’m really glad HSB could be a part of that.
How did you hear about HSB and what made you stick with it and complete the program?
My class was the first one in my high school to go through the program so it was super new. My business teachers made it sound really awesome, especially how I could earn dual credit while taking business classes. At first, it intimidated me — as a freshman thinking “college level classes?” But I took the jump and as I continued in high school, we got to go market HSB to eighth graders. Just to be able to share our excitement with them was the coolest thing.
What do you think got the eighth graders excited about joining the program?
I think my favorite part was my senior year. I told them that there are a lot of people who don’t get this opportunity — to take business classes and explore business classes as well as being super engaged and hands on. The biggest thing is that I had teachers who supported the program very highly. That made my experience top of the line. I would tell those younger students that I know college seems far away, but it’s really not, but you will get to watch yourself and classmates run a business at the end of this, interact with people outside of school and in the community, have the opportunity to job shadow someone in a career you’re interested in. Ultimately, I told them this is your opportunity to explore what you want to do in your future. And you get to do it while you’re in high school. And again the dual credit is so beneficial when you’re going into college.
At Waverly-Shell Rock, anyone could walk in and feel the “HSB Spirit.” It seemed like at your school, being a part of HSB felt like a privilege, and perhaps like a special club. Was that feeling accurate? What helps to build a positive atmosphere like that?
We had the chance to be very creative with the HSB curriculum. So, the opportunities were endless, the projects were endless, group collaboration was also huge with us and made it feel like a club environment. I would have to say the classroom discussions helped with the camaraderie. Everyone felt they were involved and our teacher showed us what we could do with the knowledge we learned.
What advice would you give to students considering the HSB program?
Do it — it’s free college credit, real-world business experience, hands-on projects and so much more. It is absolutely worth it.
Monarch High School, ’17
How did you hear about High School of Business (HSB) and what made you stick to the program?
I heard about HSB through DECA. I always knew I wanted to do DECA in high school, but in my high school, you couldn’t be in DECA as a freshman. So I heard about these HSB business classes that would prepare me to go into DECA the following year. I signed up for the HSB classes my freshman year and then absolutely fell in love [with HSB] and couldn’t get enough. What made me stick to the program were the amazing teachers who taught it. Also, knowing much fun HSB was compared to the other classes I took made me look forward to going to my HSB classes every day.
Can you expand on what made HSB fun?
I think a lot of what made it fun were the people who were in it. Everyone wanted to be there. It was an elective at my school, so you didn’t have to be there if you didn’t want to. Because of this, you get a sense of community. The teachers pushed a lot of team-building activities within the classroom compared to a math class would. I think it’s also because if you enroll in one HSB class, you’re going to be working with the same group throughout the rest of the program and high school. So the program fostered great relationships I would say.
How do you think HSB prepared you for college? What kind of advantages do you think it gave you over your college peers?
I think the classes that also offered the dual-credit enrollment that were more college level—finance and marketing—prepared me the most for college. The biggest part of HSB that helped me prepare for those college classes was the workload. It gave me a glimpse that it was more than one assignment a week; you’re learning multiple topics at a time. When I got to college, I was used to how fast paced it was. I also went into the college classes with knowledge that people who had not gone through HSB had, which made the classes a little easier.
Did the team projects that you did in HSB translate into college?
Yes, all I do [in college] is group projects and work in teams. I think the biggest thing I took away from team projects in HSB was how to communicate with others and how to set a plan for projects.
Describe your internship experience and how you fostered that relationship beyond the internship.
The week our teacher announced that everyone has to do an internship to receive certification, I was thinking “I don’t know what I want to do exactly.” My parents are not in business—most students just interned for their parents who had businesses or worked in businesses. I had competed in human resources events for DECA, so my teacher helped set me up with someone who works in HR. He introduced me to the HR manager of Boulder Valley School District at the time. Then, I went in for an interview, got the job, and was working once a week.
My role was to read job descriptions and edit them. I had so much fun doing it! I also got to sit in on meetings. And then afterwards, I kept in contact with my boss, who was the HR assistant named Steve. Every year I’d send him an update of what I was doing in college, what I’m looking forward to, and how I’m still on the path to maybe work HR one day.
Just a couple of months ago, I was looking for a summer internship for this year. So I reached out to Steve. He is now the head manager of HR at Boulder Valley, so I asked, “Need an intern again?” He then said, “Because you’ve kept in contact, let me know when you graduate. We’ll have a job waiting for you if you want it.” So reaching out every 6 months or so, sharing how I’ve been, and asking how they’ve been is how I’ve maintained this relationship. This came naturally because I became passionate in that job and HR.
Do you think HSB helped you prepare you for your job interviews?
Yes, I think how it prepared me for the application is a big one. I remember learning in one of my HSB classes of how to stand out in an application. And we were talking at the time about summer jobs and I was able to take that information and carry it over. I knew that if I wanted to stand out, I needed to write a cover letter. And I knew what that was coming out of high school, whereas a lot of people—seniors in high school or even college—don’t even know what a cover letter was. And then how it prepared me for interviews—in HSB, we’d role play and learn about things to say and not to say in interviews. And that’s also still something I carry with me.
And how about your relationship with your HSB teachers? How did your teachers have an impact on your life?
With Rudy Sumpter (HSB teacher), it was always very natural. I think it has to do with the comradery of the classroom. You almost don’t see them as a teacher—you see them more as a mentor. I think they become closer to you because they know they’ll have you as a teacher long-term through the program. They want their students to have close relationships with each other and they also want to have close relationships with their students as well.
What advice would you give to students considering the HSB program?
Do it!! A background in business is applicable to every single topic you will study! Most colleges require some sort of business as core curriculum and having a background that HSB will give you is so worth it and will give you a leg up! It also looks amazing on your résumé/gives you things to talk about when you are writing college essays as something to help you stand out!
Why should schools consider the HSB program?
It is one thing schools can implement that will actually help their students. There are a lot of things I did in high school that I can say weren’t worth it now 4 years after graduation, but the lessons and skills learned in HSB is something that I have actually been able to take and apply long after graduation.
I ended up writing all of my college application essays about my experiences in HSB. In all of my early-on applications to jobs and interviews that asked me to give them examples of when I worked on a team, I would pull from HSB classes because I didn’t have other work experience. HSB gave me tangible life experiences and tangible educational experiences that I’m still using now when working in teams. I’m using communication tactics I learned from back in HSB.