The District 155 high schools sent their VEI classes to the annual Midwest Trade Show. The classes, which simulate functional companies to give students real-world experience, helped students market their products and earn multiple awards after traveling to the 2014 VEI Midwest Trade Show.
VEI (Virtual Enterprises International) is a business simulation that schools all over the world use to help students prepare for a professional career. Students experience all of the aspects of a company while working in a position that suits their interests. VEI participants interview for positions in marketing, human resources, information technology, and other departments to learn about the facets of that job, including daily responsibilities and salary.
After earning a position, students work as a team to create, market, and sell a product or service within the simulation. Final products are sold to fellow VEI students at trade shows and online. Students can use their virtual salaries to buy products and services from other companies around the world.
In late November, Cary-Grove's Celebration Center and Auggie's teams, Crystal Lake Central's A to Z team, Crystal Lake South's UnderWrapz team, and Prairie Ridge's Déjà Vu team traveled to VEI's 2014 Midwest Trade Show in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., to sell their products to customers face-to-face. Students had the chance to experience the techniques of the 90 other VEI businesses in attendance and network with current professionals and more than 1,200 students from Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. All of the businesses earned $50,000 or more.
Cary-Grove VEI facilitator and business teacher David Cook said the face-to-face sales indicated student learning more so than what they earned.
"Those [face-to-face] sales represent students networking, improving their communication skills, and practicing professionalism," Mr. Cook said.
Crystal Lake South's UnderWrapz team and Crystal Lake Central's A to Z team won awards in the basic website, brochure, and commercial competitions. UnderWrapz won second for their brochure and earned a top ten spot for their template-based website. A to Z also earned a top ten spot for its commercial and template-based website.
All of the businesses plan to compete in Illinois' first trade show this February. Though the event will only be about half the size of the well-established Tennessee trade show, it will offer new competitions to challenge the students.
The VEI classes are already working with the next trade show in mind. Crystal Lake Central VEI facilitator and business teacher Pam Craig said her A to Z students are not only preparing a spring marketing campaign and catalogs for the upcoming trade show, but they are also practicing to compete in the new elevator pitch and speed interviewing competitions.
Crystal Lake South's UnderWrapz team also earned first place for their business plan at the Illinois Business Plan Competition in early December. As the top team, they qualified to compete at the National Business Plan Competition in New York City this April.