Over the past few years, the attendance and activity of the Mount Saint Joseph Business Club has exploded. The Business Club is a business-focused club that teaches members business strategies and teaches them financial strategies. They also host numerous events such as externships, guest speakers, and Waffle Wednesdays. To learn more about the Business club, I sat down with the Business Club moderator, Mr. Julius Prezelski and Business Club Vice President Ray Kovasics to interview them about their thoughts behind the success of the club.
To learn about the present status and the future of the club, I had to first learn about the beginning of the club. When I asked Mr. Prezelski about the origins of the club he told me, “Business Club started because a few students came to me and wanted to get into FBLA, which is Future Business Leaders of America club. So when the kids came to me, I said (being the business and personal finance teacher) sure I’ll do it.”
So why don’t we have an FBLA club anymore? Mr. Prezelski explained why the Mount Saint Joseph FBLA club no longer exists. He said, “Then, we realized that FBLA wasn’t the way we wanted to go, and we thought that DECA might be something different because it is more project oriented. So we flipped over to DECA.” DECA, which stands for Distributive Education Clubs of America, was a good pathway for the club because of the projects they offer and the competitions they sponsor. DECA also hosts challenges which give their student members opportunities to demonstrate the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom through innovative challenges in partnership with several corporate partners.
Although it sounds like DECA was the right pathway for the club, we know that Business Club split from DECA and became it’s own self independent club. Mr. Prezelski explained that, “We did this because in order to do FBLA and DECA in the state you have to offer certain classes and we didn’t have enough room in the schedule to do what everyone else does in the public schools and therefore competing in the competitions without offering those classes, you just can’t do it.”
After learning about the history and pathway of the club, I had to learn the story behind the popularity of the club. Speaking to Mr. Prezelski, he answered me by saying, “Number one, I know they like the externships, I came up with it because of my daughter in college, where they have externships as Sophomore’s and I thought why couldn’t we do that with high school kids? They know what major they are taking in college, you guys have no idea and are trying to find out what you want to do in college. So, I came up with the idea of doing an externship.”
For those who are unfamiliar with the term, an MSJ Business Club externship is a one day “internship” where a student spends a day in the life of a worker in some related field they are interested in. The purpose of the externship is to figure out if you really want to be in the field you witnessed for the day. Some of the companies that MSJ Business Club students have done externships with include: Choice Hotels, Baltimore Ravens Medical Staff, and 105.7 The Fan.
Mr. Prezelski then explained why he thought that the idea of an externship was so popular by saying, ” I think, since you guys did it yourselves, you telling other people or they are hearing on it through social media and now they are like why am I not doing that or parents are telling them so now the kids are more involved.”
Another aspect that Mr. Prezelski attributes to being a big draw for the club is the effort to make it less redundant and more fun. He explained, “This year we also are going to do once a month Donut or Waffle Wednesday, where we are going to provide donuts or waffles and drinks so a lot of kids are like, ‘hey I like that, they are doing something different’.” One quote that really stands out is when he said, “We are trying to make it fun, not everything is fun, but I think some things we do are good for you, like resume-building and bringing in the speaker.”
Guest speakers are also a large draw for students coming into Business Club. Some of the guest speakers that the Business Club have hosted include Leon Thomas ’82 , Craig Costabile ’12 from Under Armour, and Ms. Aimee Decamillo from T. Rowe Price. The speakers often talk about their jobs and how they got to where they are today. They also give advice to students and interact and communicate with them.
I also asked him why he thought being involved with Business Club or taking Business-related classes was important for students to do during High School. He answered my question by saying, “Some of the classes we teach are just for personal use, like personal finance, whether you are a business major or not, the topics we discuss, anything from taxes to investing to healthcare, checking accounts, banking, all of that is in your daily life and can help you a lot, just in your daily life because eventually you have to figure out how to do this.”
Now that I had this information from the teacher leader of the Business Club, I wanted to gain the perspective of a student leader in the club, so I interviewed Ray Kovasics a co-vice president of the club. I first had to figure out why he was interested in joining. He said, “I joined Business Club because I like Mr. Prezelski as a teacher, and I wanted to get into business competitions and learn more about the business field. I also wanted to get his take on the exciting events that he was able to participate in through the Business Club.” After a few seconds of thinking, he continued, “Going to a Wizards business event in DC, first seeing all the colleges, hearing the sports executives speak, and then of course watching the game itself.”
Going forward, the Business Club is having more events than ever. The juniors in the club are preparing to have their externships arranged, while the freshmen and sophomores are working on building their resumes. Also, a speaker Mr. Butch Conner is coming on November 6th. With all these events planned, the business club is as active as ever, and looking to grow interest among the students. If you are interested, make sure to see Mr. Prezelski in Room 15 or talk to one of the student leaders.