If you are a high school student and you are not a part of your school’s DECA program you are missing out on potentially some of the most useful skills you can learn at that age. For those of you that do not know, DECA is an international organization based around a multitude of different business themes. The organization’s mission is to “prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe.” There are many different competitions that one can take part in ranging from role plays of business ideas to writing 30-page business plans on how to improve marketing and customer experience for an actual company. From all of these objectives and projects, you complete it has an outstanding reward of professional-based skills such as public speaking, leadership, and working as a team. It is not just a club for people interested in business either, another and everyone should take part.
The reason I joined DECA was not that I was interested in the competitions or projects. In fact, I didn’t even know what DECA was when I joined it. I was forced to be a part of this community because my two older brothers were a part of it. It was more of me following in the footsteps of my family. So, when I showed up to my first marketing class and they began to talk about DECA, I wrote my name down on a sheet and threw myself into an abyss of unknown and darkness. I soon became familiar with the ideas of the club and started to be highly invested. For my first year, I was required to take part in role plays. I don’t remember what theme I was placed in but, it was something with hospitality or marketing. I worked alongside another girl who practiced mock competitions with older kids from my school. We learned to communicate and share ideas in a fast-paced environment while also making a clear, coherent, and organized presentation for the judges. I didn’t go far my first year, I only made it to the regional competition, but I had hoped to go to Nationals at some point during my high school years.
The following year I was in Marketing II and almost the entirety of the class was dedicated to creating a 30 page manual for the DECA competition. To be honest, I was terrified for this class. I have never written something that large in my life and I wasn’t even good at marketing!! Luckily, I was working with two of my friends. We chose to do an improved marketing strategy manual on a local flower shop in town. We worked for months creating the manual, writing a 15-minute presentation, and creating and designing a presentation board. When all of that hard work was finished we were stopped in our tacks the day before we were supposed to travel 8-hours north to Rochester New York for our competition. A snowstorm blew in covering the ground in feet of snow. Our hopes of going to Nationals and even just presenting our work were crushed. We were stopped by the very thing that we couldn’t control. It was devastating and disheartening. Luckily, the board of DECA decided to just look at our manuals and not score presentations. The following week we got our results and we made it, we made it to nationals!! In the spring we traveled to Atlanta Georgia and competed against all 50 states and dozens of other countries including Japan, Canada, and Puerto Rico. (LISTEN TO THE RECORDING TO HEAR MORE)
DECA is something that I will remember for years to come. The friends and connections I have made are top tier and even more important, the professional skill I developed could not have been repeated anywhere else. One of the biggest compliments I have gotten when I was a teenager was how mature, responsible, and professional I am. I attribute a lot of that to things I learned from DECA. My public speaking skills are impactable. I can stand in front of any crowd and speak in an organized and clear fashion. The same thing goes for interviews. I know how to present myself and the qualities I have to offer to a company. Finally, I learned how to work with others in a professional environment, This is something you can only learn from experience and the fact I was able to learn it so early in life is incredible. I know you might be a Biology major reading thing but, the skills you learn from this club can be translated to any field of study and life event that will ever happen. I am an avid supporter of DECA and believe that if you have the chance you should become a member.