45 Students Arrive for OLAB
by Jim Amidon
July 10, 2016
Forty-five high school seniors from all across the country arrived on the Wabash College campus Sunday, marking the 44th consecutive year of the Opportunities to Learn About Business Program. OLAB is one of the most highly regarded summer business program targeted at high school students in the United States.
OLAB Director Jim Amidon said that selecting students for this year’s program was particularly tough, but that he was thrilled with the final results.
“OLAB is such a great program, but for decades it was largely limited to Indiana high school seniors,” Amidon said. “But with websites like College Confidential and others, the popularity of the program has grown, particularly out-of-state, which is exciting. Business is no longer local or even regional; it’s global. So bringing students together from Connecticut to California and all points in between will give them a chance to meet new people and gain new perspectives.
“This group is bright and accomplished and we are excited to see how they leave their mark on such a tradition-rich program.”
The OLAB schedule in 2016 is once again fast-paced and full of fun, but includes significant changes over prior years. “Even though the formula has worked for over four decades, post-camp evaluations suggested that a few tweaks might be necessary to maximize the impact of the classroom work and the business simulation,” Amidon said. “In particular, we’ve clustered the creative aspects of the program — marketing and advertising — more closely, and we think that will have a positive impact.”
“Labbies,” as participants are known, got started immediately with a Sunday afternoon workshop led by Wabash Rhetoric Professor Todd McDorman, before diving headlong into production and marketing games led by Economics Professor Humberto “Bert” Barreto and Game-Master Greg Shaheen. OLAB and Wabash alumnus Davey Neal will lead a workshop on business ethics.
When not in class or trying to master the business simulation, students are kept busy during recreation periods and with nightly programming led by a strong counseling staff. Counselors include Dean of Students Brittany Craft, Wabash men Seth Gunderman ’16 and Kevin Griffen ’18, as well as Daniel Straka, Katie Hamrin, and Caroline Payne. All of the counselors are past OLAB participants.
Participants in OLAB are immersed in the study of effective group decision making, speech making, accounting, marketing, advertising, and they will even negotiate a labor agreement on Wednesday — or at least they’ll try. A crew of labor lawyers, attorneys, bankers, and trust officers, mostly Wabash alumni, will arrive Wednesday to teach the students the intricacies of labor negotiations.
“It’s a very full week,” said Amidon. “We try to instill in the students from day one that they need to pay attention, get involved, have fun, and think both critically and creatively. Those are the keys to success and fun at OLAB. And, of course, they are keys to their success as high school seniors and in the future as they head off to college. Everything we teach in OLAB is applicable to everyday life, whether they enter business or some other academic or professional discipline.”
The Goodrich Trust continues to be the anchoring sponsor of the OLAB program. The program also receives significant contributions from the D.J. Angus Scientech Foundation and the Carmel Rotary Club, as well private individuals.
Graduation is set for Saturday, July 16 at 2:00 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center.