Two NVIT business students had the chance to apply what they have learned so far to real situations during a Young Entrepreneurs Symposium in Vancouver last month.

Tanisha Suzuki and Gail Stamp attended the three-day challenge-based event, which gives young Aboriginal entrepreneurs the opportunity to build critical business skills, network and hear from a variety of speakers from the Aboriginal business community.

As a result, Suzuki will be representing NVIT at a national competition after her team won first place – and $625 – in the challenges at the symposium.

Stamp’s team won third place and $500 to split between team members.

During the symposium, participants between the ages of 19 and 30 were placed on teams with people they didn’t know and given a series of business related challenges. For example, on the first day each team was required to create a 45 second live commercial about a person or company they drew out of a hat. The next day, teams participated in an Amazing Race-like event around Vancouver with business related challenges along the way.

Judges awarded points based on how well teams worked together and how well they performed at each challenge, explained Suzuki.

“I’m proud of our students and their accomplishments,” said Warren Weir, dean of academic programs at NVIT. “The symposium and network provides them with real life opportunities to show how well-prepared and committed they are to their programs.”

“It also shows that little NVIT can succeed at provincial and national events.”

Both Suzuki and Stamp had the opportunity to attend the symposium through their involvement in the Ch’nook Indigenous Business Network, a group that aims to support and increase Aboriginal participation in business education.

Ch’nook, which is open to all Aboriginal business students, gives students access to a variety of networking opportunities and resources to enhance their education.

In this case, both local students said they enjoyed being able to participate in the Young Entrepreneurs Symposium.

“I liked the aspect of being able to take what we’ve learned so far and put it to use,” said Stamp, who is hoping that through exposure to different aspects of business she will be able to figure out which path to take.

Ch’nook also offers a scholarship program which includes $2000, expenses-paid conferences, business cards and other opportunities. Suzuki and Mark Coutlee, another second year business student at NVIT were selected for the program.

Coutlee says one of the biggest benefits of being involved with Ch’nook is the opportunity to network.

“We have the chance to go to different gatherings and events and network with other students and business owners, which can be a hard thing to do,” said Coutlee. In the future, Coutlee hopes to take advantage of the internship program also available to Ch’nook members.

Weir said this is the first time NVIT students have been involved with Ch’nook and he views it as a great opportunity at a time when Aboriginal entrepreneurship is growing fast in Canada.