In case you don't know what DECA is all about, let me fill you in on some basics. DECA used to stand for Distributive Education Clubs of America; however, today we just refer to DECA as an organization that gives students hands-on experiences in the field of marketing and business.
Here is their mission statement:
"DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe."
Since my future field of study will be something related to business, DECA is the place for me! The provincial competition has two components: 2 oral events and a written exam in the topic of your choice. Of course, you have to do well in regionals to qualify to provincials but all DECA competitions have a similar format. Last year, I had choosen Business Service Marketing and this year I had decided to go for something completely different: Restaurant and Food Service Management. As for the oral events, you get 10 minutes to read over and take notes on a case study, usually an issue of some sort that needs to be resolved. In the next 10 minutes, you are to present your solution to a judge. The written exam is simply 100 multiple choice questions with a time limit of 75 minutes.
Well, although I did not place in the oral events, I felt a dramatic increase in both my confidence level and presentation skills. I clearly remember that last year I would be shaking with terror when facing the judges and was quite timid while presenting my case study. Doing so alone had affected my mark as anything I had said was not as convincing.
I joined DECA merely for the learning process and to create for myself more opportunities to experience the real society. Chances are, 10 years from now I will be working in a business related firm and I will have to do some sort of an analysis on my company, resolve issues, present innovative ideas to my boss, etc. So why not start sharpening up these skills now? This is exactly what DECA can offer me and exactly what I want. Although I cannot say that I am 100% indifferent towards the results of the competition (as a semi-professional chess player for 9 years now, it's hard not to be highly competitive), upon reminding myself the reason for joining, I feel that this was nonetheless an amazing experience.
Out of more than 200 participants in my category, I placed in approximately top one eighth of the group overall. Only top 5 will make it to the internationals in the states so I'm still far from getting there. Next year I'll have one more chance. I won't give up just yet! :)