It took more time and energy than my homework. In total, it cost more then a motorcycle would. It was the greatest endeavor of my young business career. And I have nothing to show for it — except about 100 Facebook photos.
Planning this year’s homecoming group was my pièce de résistance.
It goes without saying that Homecoming requires a lot of planning. Mr. Kenah uses the event in his AP NSL lesson about factions and gridlock: pleasing a huge group of people is complicated. When you add in relationship drama, friendship, transportation, money and corsages, it gets downright impossible.
My group included 25 people with wonderfully varied interests and opinions. But what consisted of a casual choice between dinner in D.C. or Rockville to most people meant hours of research, negotiation, calculation, argumentation and stress for me. This isn’t because we planned too close to the event, or because I was given an unruly group, but rather because it’s hard to make everyone happy.
Most junior groups opt out of the actual school dance. That leaves an entire night to fill with activity. My job was to gauge opinion, but it seemed everyone’s constantly changed. Each day, new arguments would be made for where to go to dinner, what to do afterward the dinner, where to take pictures, how to dress and how we’d move from place to place. Each time an option was considered, it required research on the consequences of that option. If we went to the monuments, for example, would people complain about the cold? What time does this restaurant close? How much is the fixed price for dinner?
After countless polls, conducted both verbally and over Facebook, I made some decisions. While we had student-drivers, most people wanted the party bus. While there were dinner options much closer to our post-dinner activities, we chose to dine in Chinatown. Each of those choices caused a myriad of scheduling problems. I needed to make sure we could reach all our destinations within the amount of bus time we paid for, that I was not overcharging, and most importantly, that all students paid me. Although I had help from my friends and an extremely talented co-planner, I was financially responsible for the entire group.
Each new activity increased the price. Each new location increased bus time. Each reservation required at least two confirmation calls, price checks and credit card charges. Every time I collected money, I sent out reminders via text, Facebook and face-to-face conversation. I carried around a planner with each individual payment and order written on it. Each piece of the puzzle needed to fit together to make this even a mediocre night.
My biggest realization throughout this process was that Homecoming is in many ways similar to what marketers and investors do in real life. Negotiation, economics, and keeping the customer happy are all skills required of successful entrepreneurs and financers.
It was an amazing endeavor into the world of business and finance, as I dove into the difficulty of handling a logistical nightmare. As both a social and personal experiment, it was extremely interesting to be in the throes of these issues, and attempting to produce the best outcome. Maybe one day I’ll make this a career, but for now, I’ll settle for Facebook stalking the night and relaxing.