JA Innovation Camp, held at Helsinki Business College, was backed up by experts from General Electric.
“The Innovation Camp was an extremely useful experience for everyone! The volunteers’ input helped to back up the student groups. They brought a fresh perspective to the camps by just being themselves and sharing the knowledge they’ve gathered during their careers,” said Pirkko Peiponen from Helsinki Business College.
JA Innovation Camp was held at the Helsinki Business College on September 5th. The event gathered over 150 participants, including 105 students, around 40 tutors and seven volunteers from General Electric
“A feast of ideas”
During the one-day Innovation Camp students came up with a business idea and developed it by, for example, creating business, advertising and marketing plans. The GE volunteers worked as advisors, going from group to group and commenting on their ideas.
Outi Kaasinen from GE made it her goal to help students by asking questions. The student groups also wanted feedback on their ideas.
“It was a veritable feast of ideas. It is important for a volunteer to encourage the teams in the planning phase and come up even with the most ridiculous ideas. The best can then be developed further.”
“Internationality is a part of the students’ DNA”
Mikko Kauppinen from GE has already been a JA volunteer once this year, but this was his first Innovation Camp. He finds volunteering to be an excellent chance to work with young people.
“It’s amazing to think that internationality is a part of their DNA and they aren’t at all afraid of it. Another thing that surprises me is how well these students know the world of entrepreneurship and companies. It is a powerful tool with which they can build their future,” Kauppinen said.
He emphasizes the importance of letting the students do their work themselves and acting more as a coach than providing complete answers.
“Volunteering also gives you something to think about in your daily work. People tend to jump too quickly to the seemingly correct answer. Coaching is the staff management method of today and being able to practice it outside of one’s workplace helps to find solutions to the problems in one’s own job.”
JA volunteers still needed
The JA Innovation Camp was the first time when more than one volunteer from business life was simultaneously working at a JA camp.
“We decided give a larger group of volunteers a go, especially when we had such a large amount of students and many of the volunteers were first-timers. We are planning to have volunteers also in other JA programs in addition to camps,” said JA Finland’s program coordinator Annika Repo.
Before participating in a program, the role of the volunteers is agreed upon. For example, on innovation camps they might work as lecturers, advisors and judges in competitions.
Pirkko Peiponen from HBC encourages business representatives to volunteer.
“We will be hosting two large 24h camps later this fall and we hope to have several volunteers on them.”