Library workshop offers teens insight into business world

Staff Writer

EAST BRUNSWICK — What will be the next big Facebook partnership?

Will it be Direct TV? eBay? Groupon?

If it is, then the teens participating in the East Brunswick Public Library’s Aspiring Business Leaders workshop saw it coming.

“For not having gone to business school or college, some of these presentations were better than what I had seen at Rutgers,” said workshop creator Natesh Sood, a recent Rutgers University business school graduate who is an investment analyst at Goldman Sachs.

The Aspiring Business Leaders workshop is a month-long program that is operated by the library that teaches teens how to write resumes, analyze companies and interview properly.

On July 27, teenagers participating in the workshop were asked to present a company that Facebook should partner with that would be mutually beneficial to both parties.

“Growing up, I got involved in a lot of case competitions, and they were a great chance to learn. I thought it was a great op to inspire future business leaders and give them experience against real world problems,” said Adam Berger, head of creative insights and distributions at Facebook, who chose the overall winners.

“Some of them highlighted some of the unknown deals and partnerships that we have already and some of them thought of things that we haven’t thought of yet. It was really creative thinking for a bunch of high schoolers. They are definitely prepared for the future.”

The winner of the competition was a group who suggested a partnership of Facebook and Direct TV. According to Berger, the presentation won because of the creativity, the likelihood of this kind of partnership happening in the future, and the group’s overall presentation style.

“I kind of wanted to [go into business] before I entered the program, but now I definitely want to go into business,” said Josh Safeer, who was a member of the group that presented the idea of partnering Direct TV with the social media giant. “It definitely increased my motivation to be a business major.”

To Sood, this program is a way to get high school students thinking about what they want to major in when they do go to college.

“Back when I was in high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to major. It was very discomforting and caused a lot of anxiety because I didn’t know what field I wanted to go into,” said Sood, who has degrees in business and finance.

For students on the cusp of their senior year, this program also provided a look into what to expect when they go to college.

“I’m a rising senior, so I was contemplating between different majors. Business was one [major] that stood out for me. This helped me know what the major is like in college and how to progress,” said Sairam Mandala, who is thinking of majoring in administration management in college, with Indiana University as his first choice.

The winning group won an Amazon gift card. Second place prizes were water bottles with the logo of the social media site on them, and all participants were given posters identical to those that could be found in company offices.

This is the second year the library has conducted this program, but it is the first year it held a competition. The program is set to run again next July.

“In the summer it’s hard to get students out of the house, off the computer or off of playing video games. I know these students were working in the library in their spare time on this project, and that’s really special. Getting students to do something educational and collaborative in a professional environment over the summer is impressive,” Sood said.