Dec 15, 2008
The Real Life Xpress
A Marketing program project provides students with on-the-job learning and offers valuable business skills.
Ross Treichel had always dreamed of running his own restaurant. That’s one of the reasons he enrolled at FVTC. He had no idea, however, how one experience would bring him closer to reaching his goal.
Treichel, who graduated in 2007 with an associate degree in Marketing, worked as the manager of Fox Xpress, a food-service kiosk owned and operated entirely by students at FVTC’s Oshkosh Riverside campus. Launched by a group of Marketing students three years ago, it has also become an example of hands-on learning within the FVTC system.
Treichel, who managed the store for a semester in 2007, is taking this experience and turning it into a real-life opportunity. “I just finished the business plan for my own restaurant,” he says. “Fox Xpress definitely helped me do that. I will take that experience with me for the rest of my life.”
Even students not interested in the food-service industry are learning valuable lessons from Fox Xpress. So far, almost 20 of them have had the opportunity to work at the kiosk—and almost 200 more have been involved in some way or another, according to Marketing Instructor Teri Stark. That number includes the original group of students who conducted market research and developed the business plan for the venture.
As the store has become part of the curriculum for the college’s Marketing program, it also has grown to include other students who have worked on marketing plans, store layouts, vendor relationships, and more as part of their class work. Even Accounting and IT students have recently become involved in Fox Xpress. “One of the reasons behind developing Fox Xpress was to include a broad base of students in the learning experience,” Stark says.
Stark and two of her instructional colleagues, Sandy Plank and Caethe Brockman, helped students launch the project and have offered guidance along the way. They have also been careful to let students make their own decisions. “We are happy to help in an advisory capacity,” Plank says. “But they are the managers; they make the decisions.”
The emphasis is on learning. Fox Xpress is like a real-time learning lab, reinforcing the importance of understanding the operations and efforts of a small business.
Like other businesses, Fox Xpress doesn’t make money every day, but the kiosk overall has turned a profit. Those dollars are being used to pay the student workers and to fund scholarships for students on the Oshkosh campus. To date, students have received $2,500 in scholarships thanks to Fox Xpress.
Sun, Sand and Service Learning
An annual spring break trip offers a respite from gray skies and the chance to soak up some lasting lessons.
Seven days in Jamaica may sound like a dream spring break. But for the FVTC students who have visited the impoverished island country for a week each of the past seven years, it’s been far more than fun in the sun.
Three days of the trip are devoted to service work: painting an early childhood center, for example, or volunteering in an adult literacy class. Another three days are packed with what Vicky Barke, FVTC’s director of Student Life and one of two leaders on the trips, calls “cultural experiences.” These include visiting a local technical college, watching one of the largest companies in the country manufacture its product, or bartering with vendors at a local market. The last day is a free day. “So there is certainly time to get to the beach,” Barke says.
The trips are designed to offer students a chance to help other people and to learn about an entirely different culture.
For Alene Scott, a student who took the trip in March 2008, the biggest impact came when she returned home. In the process of meeting the people, eating the food, and working in the schools, she saw how pervasive poverty is in Jamaica—and learned how much she has to be thankful for in America. “I learned to truly appreciate where I live,” she says. “That’s something that came home with me--and something that will stick with me for a long time.”