MU students compete for "Best Pitch" at Performance Learning Showcase
Gaining real world experiences and preparing for successful careers is all part of Millikin University's emphasis on Performance Learning. Millikin students live out their learning through many hands-on opportunities across campus and on March 28 students had a chance to reflect on those opportunities during a Performance Learning Showcase sponsored by Millikin's Career Center and Center for Entrepreneurship.
From student-run ventures to paraprofessional roles, to class consulting projects in the local community and abroad, Millikin students, representing over 20 different organizations, shared how their Performance Learning experiences have helped shape their educational experience.
The event, held in the Bob & Debi Johnston Banquet Rooms of the University Commons, featured members of Bronze Man Books, Millikin's own student-run publishing company, as well as Blue Brew, Millikin's student-run coffee shop located in downtown Decatur, Ill.
"The idea is allowing students to have ownership, so we have an executive board, and we're creating an advisory board," said Daniel Rivera, a junior business management major from Franksville, Wis., and member of Blue Brew. "We have all our different segments in our company, and we discuss in our class, or in our executive board, and we decide if ideas are feasible for the company to do."
The showcase was set up much like a reverse career fair where student-run ventures and other Performance Learning groups were asked to share their pitch with guests who visited their tables. Guests were asked to vote for the "best pitch" in two categories – one vote for student-run ventures and one vote for student organizations, paraprofessionals or projects.
Big Blue Backpacks also took part in the showcase providing insight into how they prepare 83 bags of food a week for Dennis School to hand out to students who might be hungry over the weekend and school breaks.
"We're actually getting experience in the food service field as well as helping others and things that relate to any job you get in any other field," said Leslie Chandler, a senior human services major from Decatur. "It gives you the opportunity to see if this is really something you're passionate about doing."
The showcase also provided an opportunity for more recent start-ups such as Blue Point Connection and Agile 4 Entrepreneurship to network with the Decatur community. Blue Point Connection is a start-up that was created during Agile 4 Entrepreneurship's Fall 2017 Launch Weekend. The start-up's CEO, Bryce Kapitzky, a junior business management major from Decatur, created the company with the intent to create an efficient medium for students to get connected with short-term projects, such as creating a marketing plan for a local business, to long-term work such as an internship.
"We were thrilled to be a part of the evening, gaining more exposure within the campus and Decatur community," said Kapitzky.
The winner for the best student-run venture pitch was Blue Brew, represented by Daniel Rivera and Sophia Schwalbach, a junior communication major from Decatur, who oversees marketing for Blue Brew. Rivera and Schwalbach spent the spring semester focusing on gaining more exposure and increasing sales for Blue Brew by hosting nine different events in the past three months in the Decatur community.
"It's taking skills from the class and putting it into real experience for us to grow ourselves as individuals and hopefully grow the students to build networks and possibly job opportunities as well," said Rivera.
The award for "best pitch" for the student organizations was given to the University Commons Building Managers. The building managers provided information on how the University Commons is operated and how the new Millikin structure has provided not only a common space for the University, but a perfect environment for the Decatur community to come together and hear from keynote speakers and attend events.
Pam Folger, director of the Career Center at Millikin, says she plans to create future events, such as the showcase, to provide students, faculty and community members alike opportunities to come together and celebrate what Millikin is all about, Performance Learning.