There are four components to DECA involvement: Leadership, Community Service, Career Exploration and Competition. In the Competitive component, Faculty Adviser, Brenda Clark, says that students first compete in Districts, which takes place locally, and if they qualify they move on to State and then to Internationals. “There are lots of different competitive events but the main types are: Series Event [students compete as individuals], Management [compete as a team] and the School-Based Enterprise Competition which is where these students made it into the Top 10. It’s about documenting all the processes, and policies of the School-Based Initiative” Students work in a team of three and are required to write an initial paper that is 60 – 80 pages in length and is written and revised over the course of five years as different students rotate in and out of the team. The students must include documentation on all processes, forms used in the store, accounting and Human Resource practices, pictures, marketing practices and product service.
If they achieved the highest level of certification, which is Gold Certification, they were invited to compete at the international level where they are asked to present on one element of the business. This year the team was required to focus their work on HR practices and include, a 15 minute presentation that won this team first place in the category and helped them reach the Top Ten overall. They beat out 200 teams in the preliminaries, only 20 teams are invited to the finals and ten teams are honored at the Grand Awards Session.
Dr Clark wants to recognize that these students [demonstrate] “a level of professionalism, critical thinking and problem solving skills that you don’t see often in college graduates. The one thing that DECA does is bring real life experiences to theoretical learning.” The three students involved in the School-Based Enterprise [Senior, Abbie Davis and Sophomores Austin Gardner and Sydney Swenson] wanted to “wow” the judges with much more than the average slides and boards so they asked the judges to play the role of their employees at The Green Bean and participate in an abbreviated version of training and a brief quiz on what they learned. The judges were clearly pleased and the students left the presentation feeling confident.
“We wanted to make ourselves stand out; be really unique.” says team member, Abbie Davis. Abbie will be using the skills she acquired with DECA this summer as she works in a full-time internship at a recruiting firm. “They were incredibly impressed with the fact that I could prepare a resume and cover letter and follow up with thank you notes in the mail. The woman that hired me said that I was competing against people that have been in college for two or three years and they turned down every single person because they did not have the professional skill set I had. DECA gives you real life, hands on experience that you can’t get from a book.”Senior, Monique Viau, spent her third year in DECA serving as the elected State Officer. She joined the group to further her career and “DECA is an organization that can help you see different career paths and see what will work well for you”. Monique also used her DECA-acquired skills to beat out college-age students for a full time internship in Ann Arbor this summer at a digital marketing firm.
Senior, Madison O’Dell plans to use what she learned with DECA to follow in her mom’s footsteps as an entrepreneur and business woman. Madison wants to open her own wedding planning business one day and is thankful for her two years with DECA as she looks forward to her future. “Competition really prepares you for the skills you’ll need and it teaches you how to present yourself well .”
“I didn’t really think about business as a job for me but now that I’ve been taking so many business classes it gives me a wider range of experiences and what I can do in the future. I will probably get a minor in business.” says junior, Hannah Huizen and DECA member for the last two years. DECA is open to any high school student at Jenison who is currently or was previously enrolled in a business class. Everything they are learning in the classroom, they can apply to competition.