Summer at USC Academy of Business Leadership

Summer_at_USC_Academy_of_Business_LeadershipIn high school, many people like to be involved with clubs, sports and extracurricular subjects, but only a few would take advantage of opportunities beyond the high school experience. This past summer, Julie Nguyen, a senior and the president of CSF, participated in a five-week event at USC, where she learned to create a business plan for a product and present it to a panel of financial experts. Here is  Julie’s experience in her own words:

“Well, I initially heard about the program through a Women’s Right’s conference and met the CEO personally. She served on the Harvard’s Women Leadership Board, worked alongside President Clinton, and was featured on the Tyra Banks/Montel Williams show years back. In the selection process, I went through a two part interview and got admitted into my desired campus, USC. The program itself costs $3,000 and I received a $2,500 scholarship. The business program runs across four college campuses in the L.A region, UCLA, USC, Cal State LA, and Cal State Fullerton. We had a 3-day kickoff at Loyola Marymount University to start off the program. It is an intense five weeks where you have to create/prepare a business plan for your product or service in two weeks, and present to a panel of financial service professionals and entrepreneurs (fortune 500 companies). There were about 200 or so HS students, and we were competing against teams in every campus. Additionally, we were taught business concepts and fundamentals, such as financial/cash flow statement, product prototype, and Porter’s Five Forces in order for us to successfully prepare our business plan. We were taught by MBA graduates and alumni who attended business schools at NYU, Harvard, PENN, and Yale (each varies upon location), and network with them (I still stay in touch with a few). I was personally taught by an NYU stern MBA grad, and professor Patrick Henry from the USC Marshall School of Business. We go on a range of field trips once or twice a week, such as the Capital Group and the Federal Reserve Bank, and experienced what it would be like to be in their shoes for an entire day (all campuses were able to experience this). I felt like a student at USC, and loved spending time there! The campus environment and challenging atmosphere definitely played a part in how well I performed. Class began at 8am and ended at 4pm (sometimes staying ‘til 8pm to prepare our business plans). In my team of four, we prepared an app demo for a contact sharing app, and advanced as finalists at the USC level. Additionally, we won several awards, such as ‘Most Creative’ and ‘Best Teamwork’ in the final competition. We also had to manage a fictitious $100,000 stock portfolio, and competed as individuals based off performance, and I placed third. Additionally, I was a nominee for ‘outstanding leadership’ and ‘visionary leader.’ I was  able to attend a global dinner at USC for being a nominee. Lastly, we had a graduation ceremony at UCLA, which was AMAZING. I think this was one of my best summer experiences, and the program exceeded my expectations. I met some of the most incredible people, and also met a few international students that flew all the way from Lebanon, Turkey, and Peru just for the program. I knew that there was no other career I wanted to pursue other than business after this experience.”


“I originally received $1,200 based off my family income. The money was quite an issue for my parents, so I wanted to make like an ‘appeal’ (essay) to those who review all applications and financial documents. The CEO suggested for me to write an essay to receive more aid, and I think this option was only really available if you spoke to her personally about it. I think my other peers was unaware of this offer, or did not mind the price compared to the original value. I did not really see the process in any way competitive. I mainly focused on putting the best version of myself possible, and genuinely explain my eagerness to be a part of this experience. I networked and connected with the the CEO of the program right when I first met her, expressing my desire and passion for learning and exploring the field of business. My essay (a page) specifically defined what I could contribute to the program from my past leadership experiences, and what I could offer to the program if accepted. I think highlighting my own personal qualities, adding to the first conversation I had with her, played a significant role in my scholarship award. There was only about 15, (more or less) out of the 200 students that received the amount of scholarship I did, so I felt beyond fortunate to be one of the lucky few! On the other hand, a majority of the other students received around my initial amount or less.”

 By Khoa Vu