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ELC sparks interest in business-oriented juniors


To encourage high school juniors to apply to and attend the Enterprise Leadership Conference (ELC), an informational meeting regarding the conference was held at Paly’s Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

A collaborative effort of the rotary clubs of Campbell, Los Altos, Mountain View, Santa Clara, Saratoga, Sunnyvale and Sunnyvale Sunrise, the ELC’s mission is to “enhance leadership skills of high school juniors through a working introduction to the opportunities, benefits and challenges of establishing a business or providing a service in the free enterprise system,” according to its website.

The conference consists of a free three-day seminar starting and ending at Mission College in Santa Clara, with the ELC holding the majority of the event a bus ride away at Multiversity Campus in Scotts Valley, Calif.

The main activity of the conference is for students to work collaboratively in groups to create a company, develop a product and present it to “venture capitalists.”

According to Rotary Technical Advisor Kris Olson, “You get an overall taste of the amount of work, the scope of the different areas you really need to consider in order to have your own company and make it successful.”

Senior Claire Chen, who attended the conference last year, agrees with this sentiment.

“I went to ELC last year I thought it was a really great experience. I’m still in contact with a lot of the friends I made at ELC so even though you’re only there for three days, you become really close to the people you work with.”

Senior Claire Chen

Rotary Technical Advisor Phil Shemanski believes students learn essential communication and team-building values in addition to entrepreneurial skills.

“You learn a lot personally about yourself,” Shemanski said. “You learn how hard it is to work with a group of people and the barriers of how to express your point of view without insulting other people, for example.”

Students experience life as an entrepreneur, learning how to build their own businesses, provide products and services for a target industry, practice marketing and finance skills and share entrepreneurial stories.

Successful local business leaders will give presentations educating participants on all aspects of business.

“It was a good learning process because you would learn presentation-wise and then you would immediately apply it.”

Senior Claire Chen

Entrance into the ELC is determined by an online application which asks three questions: “Why are you interested in applying to this business conference?” “How do you think attending this conference will influence your future goals?” and “In ten years, at your high school reunion, what would you like to tell your classmates you have done?”

From these responses, as well as a teacher recommendation letter, the selection committee of Rotarians gauge students’ character and admit a total of 60 applicants.

The deadline for applications to the conference is Feb. 9.

The ELC views their ideal candidate as an open-minded individual interested in pursuing business in the future and willing to dedicate three days in thoroughly experiencing and learning about entrepreneurship.

There are no GPA requirements or prerequisite courses needed.

The ELC provides a unique opportunity for students to explore the realm of business and entrepreneurship and learn valuable life skills for future use.

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