When a group of 28 regional county college students sampled some SuperPretzels at J&J Snack Foods in Pennsauken recently, they got a taste of more than one of the South Jersey’s favorite treats — they also got a taste of big business in action.
The students — among the cream of the crop at their schools — were participants in the first-ever Business Boot Camp sponsored by the William G. Rohrer College of Business at Rowan University.
The Boot Camp introduced students to a wide range of business disciplines, including entrepreneurship, accounting, marketing, finance, operations and management information systems, as well as soft skills, such as business communication and business dining etiquette.
The daily training plan of the Boot Camp “recruits” combined practical business learning with team building fun. On the final day of Boot Camp, the students started their morning with lessons on management and spent the early part of the afternoon studying operations. At 3:30 p.m., they boarded a bus for J&J SnackFoods, where they watched the pretzel-making process start to finish, seeing the entire operation up close, from dough making to automatic twisting to flash freezing to packaging to trucking. The day ended with a bowling tournament matching the students against the faculty.
Open to full-time students at Burlington, Camden, Cumberland and Gloucester county colleges who earned at least 30 credits and maintained a minimum 2.5 GPA, the Boot Camp was designed to teach business fundamentals to students who plan to enter a four-year institution after graduating from county college. Those who successfully completed the Boot Camp and are accepted to Rowan also will receive a $1,000 scholarship to the Rohrer College of Business.
“The Rohrer College of Business is committed to partnering with the county colleges in New Jersey to ensure their top students make the Rohrer College of Business their first choice when selecting a college to earn their business degree,” said Dr. Robert Beatty, dean of the Rohrer College of Business.
Stephen Kozachyn, director of Outreach for the Rohrer College of Business and Boot Camp coordinator added, “Many students today don’t know what they want to do. This was an opportunity to educate them about diverse business disciplines and to expose them to a university environment.”
Catherine Lamoureux and Joseph LaMorgia, both of whom expect to attend Rowan, were two of those students.
“The highlight for me was getting to see all the paths I could take as a business major,” said Clayton, N.J., resident Lamoureux, 28, a Gloucester County College student. She entered the Boot Camp thinking she would pursue accounting and left even more decisive about that major, though she may add a second major in management when she attends the University.
“My marketing teacher handed me a (Boot Camp) flier, and he told me this would be a great opportunity to put on my resume,” said LaMorgia, 19, a Camden County College student from Cherry Hill, N.J. “I really enjoyed myself.”
Both said they would recommend the Boot Camp to other students.
That’s good news to Beatty, Kozachyn and volunteer teachers like Dan Ruotolo, CPA, managing partner with Ruotolo, Spewak & Company in Mt. Laurel.
Ruotolo and Lori McFadden, from sister firm Financial Engineering Institute, a tenant in the South Jersey Technology Park at Rowan University in nearby Mantua Township, spent a half day teaching the students accounting fundamentals.
“I think the biggest value for the Boot Camp participants is the abilty to explore various aspects and opportunities in business,” said Ruotolo, who serves on the Rohrer College of Business Accounting Advisory Board, volunteers as a mentor in the College and helps with the annual Business Plan Competition. “It was fun seeing students there for their own reasons, not because they had to attend a class. I really felt the students wanted to be there. They’re all bright. They’re all enthusiastic. All of them came here to learn. I saw a lot of growth in just that week.”