SIFE students present work at annual conference

by Peter KaspariStaff Writer

Simpson College’s chapter of Students in Free Enterprise is preparing for their annual conference held in Minneapolis.

The regional competition, which Simpson’s SIFE team has attended for the past seven years, provides an opportunity to share all the programs the group has done at the college.

“It’s a one-day competition and basically SIFE teams have 20 minutes to present the projects that they’ve done during the year to a panel of judges,” Tom Schmidt, chair of business administration and economics, said. “The judges are usually high-level corporate officials and they evaluate the projects based on the judging criteria.”

Schmidt said that over the past five years Simpson’s team has fared well, as they were a regional winner for three of the years.

“Last year, I believe we came in first runner-up,” Schmidt said. “We lost out to University of Iowa.”

Schmidt said those involved with SIFE have been working hard preparing for the conference and hope to be regional winners at this year’s conference,.

This past year, SIFE has been involved with seven different projects.

“We have the Ethics Bowl, which we’ve done for four years now,” Schmidt said. “We had a lecture on the economy and the job market for 2009 graduates. We did a financial literacy demonstration at the career fair, we’re working with a group called WeLift and we’re helping some disadvantaged people prepare resumes and how to use the internet for job searches.”

Schmidt said SIFE has also been helping with local businesses development.

“We set up and maintain a Web site called and we’re working on unifying the market message for downtown merchants,” Schmidt said. “One of the ways we’re doing that is through reusable shopping bags.”

Sophomore Molly Peterson, who got involved with SIFE during her freshman year, will be speaking about the Ethics Bowl during her presentation.

Peterson said that at least one of SIFE’s projects has to meet six requirements.

“SIFE teams’ projects address a variety of topics, such as market economics, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, personal success skills, environmental sustainability and business ethics,” Peterson said.

Sophomore Allison Wittry, who also got involved in SIFE during her freshman year, will be speaking about WeLIft.

Wittry has high hopes for the team this year.

“As with any year, we hope to go into the competition prepared and ready to do our best, and I am confident in this year’s team skills and the presentation itself,” Wittry said.

Wittry said that being in SIFE has greatly helped her.

“We put on these different events and their success gives us a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the day,” Wittry said. “I just really hope that we have been able to reach as many people as possible and educate them on SIFE’s core subjects.”

Schmidt also believes this year’s SIFE team will do well.

“The students have really worked hard the last ten weeks,” Schmidt said. “We got off to kind of a slow start, but they’ve really put things together since the semester has started. I think they’re in pretty good shape.”

Although Schmidt hopes for success, he also said it won’t be easy.

“The competition has really been tough the last few years,” Schmidt said. “It takes a lot more to win now than it did before, but they’ve got some pretty good projects, so we’ll see how the judges think about it.”

Schmidt also said SIFE wouldn’t succeed without the help of many organizations.

“I don’t think our team would be as successful as it is without the support of student government, the students, the faculty and administration on campus,” Schmidt said. “There are 1,400 SIFE teams in the U.S., and we rank in the top third.”