Three students from the business organization Distributive Education Clubs of America have earned a spot to compete at DECA internationals in Aneheim, Cali. Those at DECA internationals will be the top winners from each state and the top winners from various countries.
The competition will begin on April 23 with an opening ceremony that will establish guidelines and introduce guest speakers. Before the closing ceremony on April 27, students will compete in their specific business events and explore the city during free time.
Junior Ananya Jha is one of the three students who will be competing at internationals. She first got involved with DECA after hearing fashion marketing teacher Lois Hollingsworth talk about it. She was interested in the organization because of its cookies – but also because she hopes to major in something business-related one day.
“The competitions are really great,” Jha said. “Everyone is really stressed out but all of the energy makes for a really fun atmosphere. It’s really great being able to meet other people who are interested in the same things as you.”
Jha, along with her fellow DECA classmates who will accompany her to internationals, junior Saachi Minocha and senior Brian Hanks, first triumphed at the district level. To qualify to compete at district each had to take tests specific to their events two weeks in advance and achieve a certain score. Jha’s event is marketing, so she took the marketing cluster exam. Each candidate must repeat this process before competing at internationals.
“The test encompasses all the terminology and various scenarios that could happen in the career cluster your event is a part of,” Jha said. “My test has various words relating to marketing and it also gives me different examples of things that might happen in the marketing world. I have to come up with the appropriate answer for each.”
At the district level, Jha participated in the next portion of the competition, impromptu role play. When Jha peforms, she first plans the presentation with her partner, Minocha, for 30 minutes. They then present for 10 minutes and answer the judges’ questions for five minutes.
“In the role play the judges will first give you a case study,” Jha said. “An example of ours was that the company was opening up new locations for their stores and was going to add more products so we had to figure out how they were going to market to their customers and how they would increase their sales.”
According to Minocha, at district she and her partner hung out with kids from Plano during their time and everyone was very supportive and gave a lot of advice. However, at the state competition in Corpus Christi she was not always with Plano kids and she had to do a lot more on her own – for example, Minocha took the shuttle to the convention center by herself. Despite the differences between both competition levels, Minocha said that her experience at state was fun because of all the free time they had to do things like play volleyball on the beach or eat at the original Whataburger.
“It’s really fun, but it is nerve-racking right before your event,” Minocha said. “At state there were so many more people and they were all really confident in what they were doing. You can easily talk to all other competitors; they understand how nervous you are, are all really friendly and talkative.”
As for what to expect at internationals, Jha and Minocha know only what their sponsors have told them.
“Our sponsors say that it is really competitive,” Minocha said. “They told us that the kids there are there to win and they won’t let anything else get in their way. I am just grateful to get this opportunity to travel and experience something new. Obviously, this isn’t something that everyone gets to do and I’m really lucky that I got a chance to do it.”
At internationals, students are given more than just the opportunity to compete – they also have a variety of workshops available to them in the part of the convention center not already allocated for the competition. Various business professionals will teach the workshops.
These workshops will be advantageous for students like Jha, who are interested in pursuing a career in business. However, not all students in DECA are there because they anticipate a future in business.
“I loved preparing for the competition: learning about marketing, practicing presentations, getting your point across,” Minocha said. “But I don’t think it’s right that everyone’s assuming that I’m the type of person who wants to be in the marketing field later on. Really my favorite thing about all of this has been getting to meet a bunch of new people, have new experiences and more importantly, getting to travel. I really just enjoy this because I get to experience a new subject, a new field, new types of people and new places.”