It’s truly astonishing how fast a year goes by. I still remember sitting down being told to look at the officer’s farewell blogs from last year as a model for our 11 future video blogs. This year has truly been amazing. Members, advisors, and state coordinators alike have created an experience like no other. Getting the opportunity to visit so many chapters, learn how each one is unique yet so similar to all the others, is an eye opening revelation. I would not trade this past year in for anything.
Many are probably wondering why I would not run for a second office if I loved it all so much. While I realize that this looks extremely contradictory, I want everyone to understand that my choosing to pass on a second term in no way reflects unhappiness with the organization. In fact, I have recommended running for state office to many kids from my own chapter and various other chapters. Florida DECA is truly the most organized and impressive organization that exists in a high school setting, and if one has the chance to be a greater part of it, I would no doubt encourage them to do so.
Well, this is it. I would like to thank you all, the members, as you are the fuel that runs DECA. Without you, there is no CDC, no ICDC, no state officers. Keep up the hard work, I can’t wait to see you all at states!
What Does DECA Mean to You?
While DECA has many concrete definitions, explaining the categories of competition and the goal to prepare emerging leaders, it truly cannot be described in a sentence. After asking a variety of members what DECA truly means to them, it can be concluded that what the members truly appreciate is not the factual interpretation, but the networking and friendships that can be developed.
The most valuable opportunity that DECA offers is the ability to befriend those just like yourself from other schools, states, and nations. I myself now have a DECA friend from Virginia who I contact consistently. This is truly the most notable memory I will take back from my experience as an officer. In addition, as a state officer my team and I have developed close relationships.
DECA also teaches valuable business skills and presentation abilities. This not only helps in future business ventures, but in any performance or declaration that requires public speaking. DECA encompasses more than any one person can describe.
Lauren Mandel graduated from Cooper City High School and its DECA chapter in 2008. Little did she know, it would not be her last year with Cooper City DECA… After attending various Florida DECA CDC’s and even two ICDC’s her four year DECA membership attributed to her decision to become a marketing major at Florida State University. Her desire to continue building upon her foundations from DECA did not stop here; she proceeded to receive a MBA in Finance from Nova Southeastern University. Utilizing the many skills accrued through DECA and her post-secondary education, she moved to New York and worked within Morgan Stanley’s Private Banking Team. After two years at this position, she came back to Florida to follow her dreams of becoming a teacher. Being offered the position of head advisor of the Cooper City DECA and Academy of Finance teacher was one she could not turn down. Leading the high school organization that had so greatly influenced her education and life skills, Lauren is now instilling the knowledge she gained to be successful in DECA competition and in the workforce onto her students.
Florida DECA ELS (Emerging Leader Summit) - This conference is put on primarily for new members. It immerses members in the DECA experience early in the school year. The main focus of this conference is in giving future DECA leaders the opportunity to grow and network. They will be exposed to various workshops put on by both professionals as well as the Florida DECA officer team. In addition to the leadership workshops, this conference will most likely be the new member’s first chance to learn about DECA role plays. This form of competition corresponds to a test, and learning how it works at an early point gives member’s huge advantages over their future competition.
Florida DECA CDC (Career Development Conference) – This conference brings chapters together from across the state for the sole purpose of competing. This is where the role play introduction at ELS and all those hard hours you spent on your written event pay off. The members competing at the highest level will receive a bid to the next level of competition- but we’re not quite there yet. At CDC, Florida DECA stays in a hotel just one minute away from Downtown Disney in Orlando. If you think this conference is all work no play, you will be pleasantly surprised. Aside from practicing for whatever event you’re participating in, the only work you will be doing is a fifteen minute presentation if you created a written piece, or an hour and a half long test in conjunction with a ten minute role play. Aside from that, the rest of the three days can be spent enjoying independency with some of your closest friends!
ICDC (International Career Development Conference) – This is where all the competition culminates; states and countries come together to compete at the highest level of competition. Rotating between four locations (Anaheim, Nashville, Atlanta, and Orlando) as to give members a new experience each of their four years in high school, every year is a brand new exploration. The networking opportunities at this conference are truly amazing, giving you a brand new scope on how similar we really are to one another, despite the heavy distance between us. Seeing thousands of avid DECA fans waving their flashing lights and trading their unique pins at opening session will certainly be an experience you will not forget!
Integrity has many book definitions, but I simply perceive it as “doing the right thing, even when no one is looking”. Integrity should be integrated into all parts of your life, as it is one of the ultimate tests of your morals on a day to day basis. Integrity can even be applied to DECA. If you can’t visualize how it plays a role in DECA, it is likely because the decisions which require you to use integrity don’t even seem like decisions; your moral code is so correct that you simply choose the “good” option.
If you cheat, you are not using integrity. Whether this be by glancing at the person’s paper next to you, hiding your phone under your sweatshirt and looking up answers when your proctor isn’t paying attention, or whispering to the kid in front of you, it gives you an unfair advantage that could be a deciding factor in who gets a spot to CDC or ICDC. While it should be encouraged to do anything in your power to advance to the next level, there are moral limitations which your advisor would no doubt enforce. Even “going to the bathroom” to look up answers on your phone is a major violation of integrity. If you are making an integrity based decision, and you are considering choosing the “bad” option, just ask yourself this: what would your advisor say if he/she knew that you did that?
There is great room to use or not use integrity when referring to written events. That is the purpose of the Statement of Assurance you must sign in order to turn in your manual.
By signing that you understand and accept these terms, you are essentially saying that you are indeed using integrity in your submission of your paper, and you are abiding by the guidelines presented by DECA. The main problem that presents itself is when kids just want to take the easy way out. They use their friend’s manual from last year, and just tweak a few words and add a picture. Not only are you failing to learn anything by this method, but you are also conscientiously violating the Statement of Assurance.
High school students are under an immense amount of pressure. Between clubs, sports, social activities, sleep, and last but not least, school, their schedules are tight. Many students question their academic abilities as a result of their multitude of hours dedicated to extracurricular activities. They often force themselves into an ultimatum: take easier classes or drop an activity they are passionate about. Well, while sometimes a student might simply have too much on their plate to keep both their challenging courses and their activities outside of school, often times there are easy fixes which can make their lives a whole lot easier.
The first, and most important tip, is to NOT STRESS. According to www.stress.org, stress is the basic cause for 60% of human disease and illness. On nights that you have a lot of homework, make sure you do not get distracted. Following an after school activity, do what seems impossible, and put down your cell phone. Various studies have been conducted which display that the more a student checks their cell phone during a learning or work period, the less productive they become in retaining and articulating information. This means that by texting during your homework, not only will you be prolonging the time it takes to finish it, but you are also decreasing the value of doing the assignment. The less value you gain the more you will struggle with the material, causing you to become frustrated and thus, stressed. A personal recommendation, which I consider a large part of my success, is to make sure your weekends are as fun filled as possible. This leads to an increased motivation throughout the week as you look forward to the fun times ahead.
The second tip is very commonly expressed but not nearly as followed: DON’T PROCRASTINATE! If you receive an assignment a week in advance, plan out your academic schedule based on your extracurricular schedule for that time period. If it is assigned Monday and due Friday, look ahead to the coming days. If you have a doctor’s appointment, a DECA meeting, and a football game on Wednesday, and no activities after school on Tuesday, plan to do the assignment Tuesday. Despite the widespread mentality, “Oh it’s not due tomorrow so I shouldn’t worry about it,” it is actually beneficial to divide up your workload as to alleviate the pain of staying up until one the night before five assignments are due. Not procrastinating is also a safety net in case of emergency. If you have five days to do an assignment and you wait until the fourth night, if your power goes out or a family member has to go to the hospital, the teachers will not accept the excuse.
Lastly, it is important to have a physical agenda. Many students entrust themselves with remembering every single meeting/homework assignment/test date, and it is often to their detriment. Have you ever walked into class and when the teacher says, “Pass up the homework,” you turn around to the kid behind you with a terrified look, and ask in a shaky voice, “What homework?” If not, you are probably of a rare breed. Humans make mistakes; it is inevitable. But, with an agenda, these mistakes are much more limited, as it offers the ability to do your brains job for you.
It’s that time of year again! That’s right chapter officers, time for the processes you’ve all been dreading. Collecting dues, t-shirts, fundraising, recruiting… Yup, all that fun stuff. Well, while I can’t do all this work for you, I can offer tips on these various topics. Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” I would like this theme to reflect in this blog, as it is important to remember as you approach the many obstacles that will come your way that you are part of an officer team, and they are there to support you.
Florida DECA members are required to pay eight dollars for national dues, six dollars for chartered association dues, and various amounts for different district’s dues. It is then important to build in other costs, such as t-shirts and any other luxury your chapter would like to offer. The collection gets tricky. One recommendation I have is to primarily attempt to set up collection of dues online. Using a simple form, perhaps through your individual school’s website, you have the ability to collect everyone’s information, put it in a database, and allow them to pay all within a couple clicks. This is often very helpful in eliminating the clutter and randomness of checks, cash, and forms strewn across an advisor’s desk.
DECA shirts are highly admired by members. While it’s true that extremely involved members receive a plenty sufficient amount of DECA shirts each year, the chapter shirt is the only DECA shirt some students receive throughout the school year. A good shirt idea encourages club spirit and can really provide a bonding aid to your chapter. One idea is to allow a contest among your members to submit t-shirt designs and then vote. This gets the members involved instantly and promotes the fun and creativity DECA entails. Once a shirt design is decided upon, make sure you have figured out an affordable vendor! Dealing with overpriced t-shirts is NOT a concern you want to have to begin your school year.
Every chapter has their own way of fundraising. Some sell baked goods, candy, host a carwash, etc. The funds you produce from these events are extremely valuable to your chapter, as they have the ability to significantly lower the price of conferences for your members, which often encourages significantly more to attend than otherwise would. It is in your best wishes for your chapter that you do not allow the price of a conference to be a deterrent from chasing the DECA dream. Not only will it lower these prices, but it also gives your chapter some extra money to save or spend. Perhaps your school’s DECA room isn’t quite decorated as much as you’d like… Just sell hard, and you’ll be able to make some changes!
You have many tools at your disposal for recruitment. Some ideas would be: if your school has a “rush week” get a DECA table and have some chapter officers run it. Talk to the kids that walk by and try to appeal to the fun and competitive nature of our organization. You could even go on DECA.org and purchase some pencils or pins to give out to members who are interested. The more “DECA” is spoken around your school, the better off your chapter is. Another selling point is ELS. If your chapter has previously attended, pull up some pictures and show them off. Explain how much fun DECA members experience on these conferences. Lastly, if you have a neighboring middle school, see if you can work out a visit to the eighth graders. These are the majority of incoming possible first year members, and they should be your target audience. Again, explain our competition, conferences, and above all else, FUN!
Proper DECA Dress
When competing at a DECA conference, you should NEVER be without a blazer (Of course, at ICDC a DECA blazer is required) or a suit. It is common to wear a color of black or navy blue, but sometimes gray or brownish apparel is also selected. It is vital to incorporate every aspect of your outfit in your planning, as you do not want any clashing among your various pieces. Accompanying your blazer, a nice, long-sleeved dress shirt should be tucked into a pair of nice pants. Pants are often chosen to be of khaki or black color (if a part of the suit then they will match the top half). A belt, often black to match black or gray pants and brown to match khakis, must not be forgotten. The belt can sometimes get tricky, as the holes may not give you exact flexibility as to your size, leading to a scrunched part around the waist if too tight or constant lowering if too big. Just remember, your blazer is likely to cover any scrunch that occurs, perhaps giving a reason to join the tight side. Dress socks, preferably directly matching the selected pants, should be worn as well, high enough so that no one will see any bare leg while sitting down. Dress shoes must also be worn, often brown or black, corresponding to the rest of the business dress being put together. To top it all off, a tie must be worn. This is the most personalized selection in a man’s business dress. Bow ties, bull ties, plain old regular ties… There are ties for sports teams, for music artists, for foods… There is not much of a limit on what tie you can wear, as long as it matches. But do keep in mind: judges will get different first impressions of you based on your tie. If you’re going for a professional look, a tie with a bunch of pizzas on it is not recommended.
Females are faced with more flexibility in their selection of business dress: a blessing and a curse. Skirt suits are often worn to radiate a conservative and professional look (although remember, a DECA blazer is required for women at ICDC as well). It is very important as a woman in the professional world to look appropriate in her environment. Judges often do not take well to unnecessarily revealing outfits. If a skirt suit is not preferred, a blouse is another route. Not just any blouse will do; sleeves are a necessity. To go along with the “revealing” factor again, if it gets hot and you want to take off your blazer, it might give your judge a poor impression. Similar to the tie on a male, flashy colors are not encouraged, as it may give a poor impression to the judge. Stockings should be worn as well, the lightness corresponding to the rest of the outfit. Jewelry is fine, as long as it is not distracting. For example, large hoops or strange, unique shapes should be ignored in favor of more conservative accessories. Lastly, shoes: the never ending demise of the female attitude towards business dress. Hate to say it girls, but standard business dress shoes consist of pumps with one and a half inch heels. I know it hurts, but it’s a sacrifice to take on the look of a professional.
How to Have a ProDECAtive Summer
It’s coming round to the end of the school year, and you’ll have to wait a whole three months to reunite with your chapter. Many of you are probably thinking: “Well I guess that’s it for this year” and “It’s not like you can do DECA over the summer”. WRONG! There are multitudes of ways to be productive throughout the seemingly endless summer.
Everyone has those summer days where nothing is going on, and you end up just lazily waltzing around the house checking the refrigerator six times and the pantry seven, calling your thirty closest friends, to no avail. Well it’s time to change that! DECA releases its written event topics and information over the summer, so instead of waiting until the last night possible to start your manuals, maybe try actually doing it early for a change. Now, remember… Practice tests do not run out. You always have the opportunity to sit down and answer a couple questions.
Now this is an area where many people don’t see the connection to DECA. Part of Team 58’s Annual Business Plan is to host a community service event. There is no restriction that it cannot be held over the summer. It is true that DECA is very invested in competition; it is our main reason why we put together conferences, in all fairness. Despite this realization, it is important to analyze our four core values, our guiding principles. One of these values is “Community Oriented”. The title in itself is reason enough to put on such an event.
It’s a modern world out there. Cell phones and social media and laptops Oh My! There will always be opportunity to make connections throughout your summer. Some ideas:
· Face-Time a Florida DECA officer
· Go out to lunch with your school’s officer team
· Check the Florida DECA website for news and updates
· Get coffee with your expected competition partner
Remember, this is just a small list of possible ideas. There are plenty of other methods you can use to communicate with DECA throughout the summer!
A variety of online courses and Dual Enrollment Classes are offered over the summer in fields such as Marketing, Hospitality, Finance, Business, and Entrepreneurship. By taking one of these classes, it facilitates your knowledge in both communication and competition. Even if you feel like it is not directly part of your DECA curriculum, it might be assisting you in ways you don’t even think about. Math is vital in finance, entrepreneurs must have language arts and public speaking skills to sell their product, it’s helpful for business owners to learn economic principles… The list goes on and on.
DECAcation: A Chapter Officer
It’s about that time of year! The new officers make their grand debuts while the old officers sink into a void of desperation knowing that they will no longer be serving as a DECA chapter officer. DO NOT think that your school is the only one to experience these mixed emotions; it is a commonality throughout every chapter, resulting from the astounding experiences and good times being a chapter officer offers.
The key to building any team is bonding. Through team bonding, you will form relationships that can carry on for life! There is no better way to get attached to a group of people then to build a DECA legacy at your school.
Leadership is a key attribute that is developed through a chapter position. Planning and executing events, competition, and even t-shirt ordering is no easy task. It takes a team of strong, dedicated leaders to facilitate such projects.
Different chapters run different systems in terms of chapter officers. While some might run a board of officers, others might place responsibility for particular tasks in one officer’s hands. In the end, as officers (no matter what position you might be), your mission should be the same: Make your chapter the best it can be! Now here’s the part that seems to escape many officers. You are not just responsible for what your job description entails, it is your job to go above and beyond to tend to your chapter’s needs. For example, hypothetically, I am a treasurer for a chapter. I complete all my obligations. Purchase orders are completed in a timely manner, and I spit out receipts like no other. One day, my advisor is stressed, because she has a whole folder to sort through and the secretary who normally would fulfill this need is absent today. Now, in this situation, some might question why they should do such work. “I ran for treasurer and I won! This work is below me! Why should I be doing someone else’s job when they haven’t done anything for me?” This is exactly what you want to avoid. This is one dimensional thinking, and will be detrimental to your overall cause. Do not think of this as a favor to the person. It is actually a favor to your advisor, and a favor to your chapter as a whole.
Vince Lombardi once said, “Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” While different chapters may interpret themselves in different ways, I personally can look at each one of the words before “work” listed above, and directly compare it to DECA. So my suggestion to you is analyze this quote, pick one of the words that you feel most connected to, and approach your officer term in the mindset to unite your chapter as one of those organizations.
Just remember, HAVE FUN! In the end, DECA offers a great many opportunities, and by accepting a role as a chapter officer, you are guaranteed to maximize both good times and responsibilities in your quest to ultimate DECAcation.