Business clubs find popularity

Nathan Halverson

Bud Philbrook paused to keep his voice from cracking into sobs as he recalled a moving moment when his business could afford to provide food for 100 malnourished Indian children.

Philbrook, a University graduate and founder of Global Volunteers, spoke to members of the University’s Entrepreneurship Club last week, providing an example of how to successfully start a business.

Since Philbrook started Global Volunteers in 1984, the group has sent more than 13,000 volunteers around the globe on human and economic development projects.

“I hope (the students) see how they could make a difference,” he said.

Business clubs like the Entrepreneurship Club are becoming increasingly popular on campus, as students search for ways to be successful after graduating.

Claudia Bowman, a veterinary medicine student and president of the Veterinary Business Club, said clubs provide information beyond what can be found in the classroom.

“They fill in the gaps our education doesn’t cover,” she said.

The vet club, which was founded a little over a year ago, brings in veterinarians, lawyers, and clinic managers to provide information about the difficult business choices that follow graduation.

“Many of our members will become small business owners,” she said. And after graduating, most will be dealing with their first contracts, she added.

Bowman said the speakers teach students to handle issues like how to avoid being sued, and other challenges veterinarians face every day in clinics.

It is these day-to-day decisions many business club members feel their courses don’t cover, and that their clubs are better suited to address.

“We tell people they learn more in club than in class,” said B.J. Durtsche, president of Entrepreneurship Club and a Carlson School of Management student.

The Entrepreneurship Club was formed in the spring of 1999, and last year had 90 paid members and more than 240 participating members. Approximately 40 percent were not Carlson students, Durtsche said.

Students said the clubs are a good way to meet like-minded individuals who can provide friendship during college and valuable job-hunting help after graduation.

“I want to get involved in something,” said CSOM freshman Tessa Retterath after attending the Society for the Advancement of Management kickoff meeting. “It’s a good way to meet people with similar interests.”

Molly Kohl, SAM club president, said she joined so she could meet upperclassmen and have access to the club’s faculty advisor – both who can provide crucial class information and business contacts.

She also said being involved in a club looks good on a resume.

“It makes you more marketable,” Kohl said.

Some clubs are quick to point out they offer members more than marketability. Instead, they say it’s an opportunity to gain the knowledge and confidence it takes to succeed wherever their passions lie.

Durtsche said after listening to speakers, students feel more confident.

“It’s their shot of motivation for the day,” he said.

Whatever their reasons, students are packing the club meetings. At Philbrook’s speech, stragglers were left standing in the 70-person maximum occupancy room.

“I’m excited to become a member,” Retterath said.