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A virtual job tour of the world

December 25, 2004

Jacqui Brown

Strike A Pose and Vandalay are two corporations you might not run

into in the real world of business, but for students at John

Burroughs High School, it's a course in virtual reality.

Strike A Pose has 20 employees and offers the media industry

photography services and a place to rent costumes, domestically and

abroad. Vandalay, also with 20 employees, has function and event

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coordination as its moneymaker.

This virtual enterprise, e-marketing regional occupation program

allows students to buy and sell goods, services and ideas in an

electronic virtual commerce environment.

"The course has been designed for the culminating class in the

Business Academy, where students use all their computer skills,

decision-making and distribution skills to learn about business

management, including Web design," Sue Boegh, director of educational

support services for Burbank Unified School District said. "Students

earn virtual salaries, pay virtual taxes and practice budget

technology."

The program starts in 10th grade with business management, carries

on into 11th grade with accounting and in their senior year students

become virtual business moguls.

Instructor Dale Hunzinger said they are hoping to offer computer

application in ninth grade next year as part of the program so

students can develop good computer knowledge.

"This program began in New York state and has now spread to more

than 200 schools across the country and as far away as Taipei and

Uganda," Hunzinger said. "This course is real world oriented and

helps to draw the students out of Burbank into the bigger picture."

Students were interviewed, job descriptions were written and

salaries were determined based on local businesses before the

companies could apply for a business loan through one of the virtual

companies.

One department handles technology and takes care of the Web page

design. Another deals with sales and marketing and develops the

catalogs and advertising for the online sales. A third department

deals with finances and handles all payroll and taxes for the

business, as well as all personal financial transactions. Each

student is required to spend their virtual paychecks on cars, homes,

rent, food or other expenses they may incur. The human relations

department created its own manual on dealing with personnel issues.

The community played a big part in setting up the human relations

department for Strike A Pose, according to Natassja Aspelin, the

virtual company's vice president of human relations.

"We went to businesses around Burbank and asked them what they had

in their manual so it was pretty much a collaboration," Natassja

said.

Oscar Aguilar, corporate executive officer of Strike A Pose, said

the class is good training for a career in business.

"Every employee in here has gone for an interview so you learn not

to stumble at the real thing," Oscar said. "Here, you learn to deal

with and handle the challenges as they come up."

Executive administrative assistant Rick Sobalvarro of Vandalay

said business is running nicely.

"We've set up an entire business in 15 weeks and we're making

money," Rick said. "This could lead to starting my own business."

The virtual business class will compete in two trade fairs next

semester, one in San Diego in February, the other in San Francisco in

March.

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