By Jack Ayer
Tensions were high on the morning of April 1, as Raritan Valley Community College's Enactus team huddled together in a hotel room in Cincinnati, Ohio for one last practice. At 8AM, with coffees in hand, the team went through their 17 minute presentation, smiling nervously but feeling confident and ready.
Founded on campus in 2011, Enactus has already won club/organization of the year at RVCC twice and acquired a reputation in the community for its service outreach and professionalism. They do this by applying business and entrepreneurial concepts to solve problems faced in the community, country, and worldwide.
On April 1, the RVCC Enactus team entered the opening round at the annual "2014 Enactus United States National Exposition", where hundreds of Enactus teams from around the country competed by presenting their accomplishments throughout the year. RVVC spent 17 minutes talking about their work with local businesses, non-profit organizations and school programs in their community.
RVCC impressed the judges during the first round, and was well prepared for the judges' scrutiny during the question and answer section of their presentation. The judges asked a variety of questions, from clarifying questions to ones about their economic sustainability and predicted future revenues for certain projects.
Hours later, the ceremony official announced RVCC as a finalist, and brought the team on stage to receive their award in front of thousands of students.
RVCC then moved on to eventually finish third place in the quarter final found, placing them in the top 60 performing schools in the nation. RVCC was one of the few two year schools at the event, competing against four year universities. This included renowned schools like Brigham Young University, Clemson University, and Boston College.
Although the ceremonies focused largely on recognizing hard work, that wasn't it's only (or most important) purpose. It brought people together from all over the country and promoted collaboration, unity and the chance for networking between students and corporations. At the job fairs that ran throughout the week, exclusive to Enactus students, corporations such as Walmart, Coca Cola, and KPMG recruited heavily for corporate positions.
The exposition increased students' exposure to the job market, helping them stand out among their academic peers. Networking opportunities, both with students and businesses, were ubiquitous for Enactus teams. As the RVCC Enactus team walked out after their opening presentation, they met with an impressed Walmart Corporate recruiter who requested on the spot interviews with team members.
Members of RVCC's Enactus team had a tough time describing how much of an influence the exposition had on them. Mike Smego, co-president of RVCC's Enactus, said, “Nationals, as well as the preparation for it, was truly life changing. Through weeks of constant late nights in preparation, our team created a bond that I feel will transcend beyond our time at RVCC. Competing was almost surreal because our efforts came together flawlessly. There was a sense of pride I will never forget.”