Bea Hartman admits that she “knew next to nothing about business” before participating in the 2019 Business Intensive Seminar at the end of her first year as a Knox College student.
Business had “never been an area I’ve had to think about or considered, really,” she explained. “But now, I actually have a good basis for it.”
Hartman was among 30 Knox students to be selected for the seminar, which took place May 29-June 1 on the Knox campus. Most participants had just completed their first or second year of college.
The Business Intensive Seminar was facilitated by Jim Foley '78, director of the Turner Center for Entrepreneurship at Bradley University. He has led the seminar each year since 2017. Some of his colleagues from Bradley also pitched in for various parts of the four-day event, which included sessions on business fundamentals, ethical business decisions, emotional intelligence and communication, entrepreneurship, innovation, and marketing.
For the final project, students worked in small groups to create presentations that analyzed a specific company, its marketplace challenges, and how it could turn itself around. Each group analyzed a different company, and Knox alumni served on panels that evaluated the presentations.
Hartman said the Business Intensive Seminar especially helped bolster her skills in networking and making presentations. As a rising sophomore, she hasn’t yet officially declared a major at Knox, though her current plans are to major in anthropology and sociology and to minor in music and archaeology.
“Though this seminar requires long, hard hours, it’s worth it at the end of the day,” Hartman said.
The Business Intensive Seminar is designed to help Knox students be more effective and successful, whether or not they wind up pursuing studies or careers in business.
“We want them to know that a Knox liberal arts education is going to serve them really well, including in a career in business,” Foley said. “Also, the skills of effective communication, team dynamics, leadership, and emotional intelligence all support success in life, regardless of their careers.”
Students agreed the Business Intensive Seminar was a memorable educational opportunity that will benefit them now and in the future.
“The experience was wonderful, and if anyone else gets the opportunity to take the Knox Business Intensive Seminar, they should—especially people who aren’t majoring in business, as it really opens your eyes to the business side of things, communication’s importance, and how a business operates,” said Matrice Young, who is majoring in creative writing. “You learn a lot about the business world and yourself, and you meet new colleagues and alumni who are all driven people you can create meaningful relationships with, as well as gaining and putting into place research skills on both a qualitative and quantitative level.”
Charles Broomfield, who is considering a business and management major, is interested in entrepreneurship and how companies operate in society. “This seminar was a step in the right direction for not only understanding but also for participating in this space,” he said.
Ajay Gustafson said the seminar improved his ability to work in teams, conduct business research, and develop interpersonal skills. “All of these skills will help me when I am in the workforce [and] will allow me to be more flexible work-wise and analyze my environment better,” he said.
Foley praised the Knox students who participate in the Business Intensive Seminar, describing them as curious, open-minded, attentive, and dedicated.
“It is a very special bond when you are teaching students from your own alma mater—a bond that is really rewarding and a chance to give back,” he added.
“Knox was a huge influence in my business career and my academic career,” said Foley. “I keep leading the seminar because I want [current Knox students] to understand how special a place Knox is, and that if they choose a career that involves business, they can be very successful.”
The Business Intensive Seminar is funded by David '65 and Dian Barth and the Robert '66 and Carolyn Romsa Parke '67 Ethics Fund.