From February 22 to 25, 98 members of MSJ DECA participated in the California DECA State Career Development Conference (SCDC). SCDC is the biggest DECA competition in CA that culminated with an online awards ceremony on March 11. MSJ usually has a strong showing at this event, and this year was no exception, with 36 students earning top 10 wins and 22 students set to compete for the International Career Development Conference (ICDC).
Some of MSJ’s most notable performers at SCDC include Co-President Senior Alex Zhang and CA DECA Silicon Valley District Vice President Senior Tyler Shern who earned first place in both the Marketing Management and Financial Literacy Project events. Vice President of Hospitality Senior Neha Gondra placed first for the Finance Operations event, and Director of Accounting Junior Jessica Yu and Junior Lindsey Wen earned second place in the Sports and Entertainment Marketing event.
SCDC usually involves three events that test competitors’ business and entrepreneur skills: a written report, which is composed of a 10-20 page report centered on a specific business field, and roleplays, where contestants have 10-30 minutes to prepare a presentation for an impromptu situation, and lastly a multiple choice written test.
In typical competition, live judges would evaluate the presentations and reports to determine the contestant’s placing. This year however, CA DECA changed how SCDC operates. Instead of members from across the state gathering at a hotel for a weekend to compete live in front of judges, the conference was in virtual format with the events spread across a week. The conference had no live judges this year; instead, students submitted pre-recorded presentations through an online submission portal, with three days allocated for students to film their roleplay events. For the written portion of the event, participants were asked to write a research report that encapsulates detailed metrics, including marketing strategies and financial planning for their chosen business fields, which include marketing, entrepreneurship, hospitality and tourism, and business managing and administration. Combined with the 100-question multiple choice test, judges scored participants on a point-based scale to determine awards placement. In the end, the top four finishers for the written event and the top five finishers for the roleplay event qualify for ICDC, which is expected to take place virtually from April 19 to 30.
To prepare for these conferences in past years, MSJ DECA would hold weekly meetings in C120 for members to practice roleplays, listen to lectures, or ask for officer feedback on their reports. This year’s online setting presented many challenges though.
“[There’s] less back and forth between the members … so it’s hard to gauge how well the members are actually learning,” Director of Conferences Junior Jason Zhang said.
MSJ DECA also had to forego hosting mock-cons throughout the year, which were mock competitions that mimicked real conferences and offered crucial feedback to DECA members. Even with these obstacles though, this year saw a massive increase in DECA participation, with 111 new first-year members competing this year.
“The future for MSJ DECA is really strong. Although it’s been more difficult to compete this year due to the pandemic, we’ve had so many more new first year members, [and] so many of our members have shown their motivation to compete in conferences,” Director of Education Junior Tiffany Li said.
Although the future of DECA competitions still remains up in the air due to the pandemic, Alex Zhang remains hopeful for the next school year. “I hope we can expand the chapter to get more members involved, because so much of what DECA teaches you, like finance and marketing, can be applied to your adult life and beyond,” he said.