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I recently had a conversation with Provo High School’s DECA regional contestants Michelle, Rory, and Katelyn.

For those unfamiliar with DECA,  DECA (An Association of Marketing Students)  is a non-for-profit organization preparing high school and college students for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality, and management globe-wide. DECA students put their entrepreneurial knowledge to the test through DECA events that include written components like an exam or report, and an interactive component with a professional industry serving as a judge.

The three students I interviewed shared some learned insights gleaned through participation in DECA regionals, ruminated on preparations they’ll make before their next event, and even made some suggestions for students unfamiliar with DECA, or students who might be considering DECA.

Q: Can you share with readers a little bit about your roles in DECA, as well as a few hobbies or after school activities that interest you outside of DECA?

Michelle: I serve as the Vice President of Treasury for DECA. I’m in our school’s Dance Company– which I love– and Student Government.

Rory: I’m Vice President for DECA. I’m also in Provo High School’s Dance Company and Student Government. I also volunteer in the Provo Youth Court, which is super fun.

Katelyn: I’m the Vice President of Activities. I’m also on the Varsity Tennis team at Provo High.

Q: So, Rory and Michelle, you two competed together. What did you compete in?

Rory: We competed in Hospitality Services and Decision Making. We had to prepare for a role-play presentation.

Michelle: We were dealing with franchises within the hotel industry. We were representing a smaller hotel underneath a larger franchise.

Rory: Yeah, we had to decide whether to stay with a franchise, or whether we should become our own business. We created a presentation on our decision.

Q: Was there anything that you feel like didn’t go your way, or were there any situations that you had to improvise in? Or did you feel entirely prepared for your presentation?

Rory: Honestly, we were less familiar with the hospitality industry, and we haven’t competed in this specific event, but Michelle’s mom is a hotel manager. We knew that she could help us prepare. I didn’t necessarily feel as prepared as I would like, but the presentation skills that we picked up in our time in DECA class and Student Government really helped us prepare.

Katelyn: I went in a group with another friend of mine, and we created a presentation for the Buying and Merchandising segment. The role-play included a department store, and they asked us what merchandise we could include in their store. They asked us how we can best reach our targeted audience, and I don’t feel that I answered the question as specifically as I could have– which I can prepare for, now.

Q: Are there any skills that you learned in class that helped you prepare for the event, and are there gaps in your knowledge that you would like to study before the next event?

Rory: DECA events are the sort where you’re less familiar with what you’re about to present. So more than anything, we’ve practiced time management skills, because you have a limited amount of time to prepare your presentation, and presenting skills, too.

Michelle: I think the most difficult part to prepare for is making the role play real. The role play aspect is hard, so practicing presenting to others helps.

Katelyn: I realized that confidence while presenting is important. Being confident makes a big difference.

Rory: I also think that people might be afraid to join DECA for various reasons, but if you have a broad understanding of a topic, you’ll do well. People feel like they need to be experts on a subject, but the truth is that DECA is about the creative process, and problem solving on the fly. Like anything in life, you have to jump in.

Rory’s message is one worth reiterating. I was an ungainly teen, but those DECA practices helped develop confidence and comfort in presenting myself at work or in higher-stake group projects. More importantly (to teen me, at the very least), DECA conferences were fun, memorable experiences for my friends and me

For students or parents who’ve considered DECA– give it a try. To quote Rory: “Like anything in life, you have to jump in.”

Spencer Tuinei
  • Communication Specialist
  • Spencer Tuinei