Students presenting their business at BCAP

After a week of lectures, Excel worksheets, late night meetings and good food, the soon-to-be high school seniors attending Business Career Awareness Program (BCAP) are tired. But their week isn’t over. They have to finish their biggest challenge of the week—presenting their ideas for a new restaurant in Bryan-College Station to a panel of judges.

The 7th annual BCAP this June was an Ernst & Young and Ford sponsored weeklong introduction to business for 48 of Texas’ highest achieving seniors. Mays faculty teach under-represented students what to expect both in the business world and as business students at Texas A&M. To give students a taste of business outside the classroom, groups of four or five are given the task of designing a mock business in the food industry, which is judged at the end of the week by Mays faculty.

bcap2.jpg“You kind of have to trust that people know what they’re doing. Everyone does their own part,” says BCAP student Claudia Roberts.

Each group teams up with a counselor and tutor, both current students at Mays. Counselors lodged with the students at the private dorm Traditions, and spent time with them throughout the week, giving help whenever needed. Tutors specifically helped with math, finances and the more technical side of starting a business. But BCAP students were ultimately in charge and accountable for the results.

“The projects that they do in the time they’re given is amazing. They didn’t come here for a week of vacation. They came here to work,” says Natalie Minshew, a BCAP tutor and senior accounting major.

Each group prepped financials, accounting and management plans and were required to shoot a commercial advertising their business. Business ideas ranged from Totally Twisted, a pretzel lounge, to Chocolate Paradise, a fondue stand for the College Station mall. Team members presented their financial means for starting the business, as well as their expected profit over the first few years. They also had to consider employee labor, property costs, and unit costs, to name a few.

Many of the current counselors were once BCAP participants themselves. “It’s grown a lot. It’s much more competitive, but they still teach the same concepts of business strategies and techniques,” says BCAP counselor and now sophomore business major Viridiana Sanchez.

When Sanchez attended BCAP in 2005, a total of 21 students attended. Now in BCAP’s seventh year, 48 students were selected to participate. And that’s after even tougher enrollment requirements. A total of 56 students who attended BCAP since 2001 have enrolled as freshmen at Mays, with six going on to graduate from Texas A&M. Three of those six have entered or plan to enter graduate school.

BCAP provides a great way to recruit the Class of 2012 for Texas A&M, even if it’s not as a business student. After a week on campus, BCAP student Dionna Budd of Katy noted that she had “never considered A&M until I came here. It’s got a lot of character.”

For other students, a week on campus with students and faculty helped erase doubts concerning the culture of Texas A&M. Gabrielle Smith of Austin worried she wouldn’t fit in. “This shows me that there is diversity. That there is a community and program I can look to.”

The winning business proposal for the 7th annual BCAP went to the Zen Den, a teahouse lounge where students and Bryan-College Station residents could enjoy a calming atmosphere while drinking exotic teas. Group members each received a winning $50 for their hard work.

— Lindsay Newcomer