Each year, DECA’s International Career Development Conference (ICDC) welcomes thousands of high school students, teachers, advisors, business professionals, and alumni in a grand culmination of the competitive season. This year’s conference took place from April 23-26 in Atlanta, GA, with 35 members of MSJ DECA qualifying to attend.
After nearly two years of virtual competitions, the transition to an in-person conference posed several challenges. “It was harder to keep members engaged when they hadn’t really experienced the conference environment beforehand,” President Senior Jessica Yu said. However, members worked diligently to prepare for their events, attending weekly workshops with the help of Advisers Belinda Eugster and Bellamy Liu.
The conference featured several events and exhibits for attendees to explore, including an Emerging Leader Series, college and career booths, Executive Officer campaigns, various leadership academies, and the School-based Enterprise Academy. In particular, the highly anticipated Competitive Events Program involved more than 18,000 DECA members showcasing their college and career skills relating to business through a variety of exams and interactive components, which are judged by industry professionals. Because of ICDC’s nature as an international event, attendees were able to interact with competitors from around the world. “We got to see how every state had their own unique DECA niche … It was really cool to see,” Vice President of Finance-Elect Sophomore Katie Tang said.
Continuing the team’s historical success, 19 MSJ DECA members placed in the top 20 of their event. Notably, Sophomores Adit Mittal, Aum Narkar, and Jack Yin finished second in the Virtual Business Challenge (VBC) Retailing Track, and Seniors Ashton Lee, Andrew Wang, and Jason Zhang earned third place in the Personal Finance Track. Prior to ICDC, Vice President of Competitions Senior Tiffany Li, Senior Jennifer Zheng, and Senior Steffi Zhou placed first in the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising’s Entrepreneur of Tomorrow Challenge. MSJ DECA also had members who placed in the top 10 or top 20 in Startup Business Plan (Allison Huang & Irene Chen), Integrated Marketing Campaign (Trisha Hsu, Lindsey Wen, Allison Zheng), and the Business Law and Ethics Team Decision Making (Pranav Batra & Shameet Sharma) events. Sophomore Allison Wang was a top-scorer in the Apparel and Accessories Marketing exam.
In addition, Director of Education Junior Ryan Liu, Vice President of Finance-Elect Katie Tang, and President Senior Jessica Yu were the first team from MSJ to ever participate in the School-Based Enterprise (SBE) event and placed fourth out of 221 teams. The SBE competition entailed an oral presentation on human resources management. In order to prepare, the team organized regular meetings in the weeks leading up to ICDC to practice their presentation as well as brainstorm ways to express their ideas creatively. They ultimately decided to use Legos as one of their visual models showcasing the Student Store, which proved to be a unique approach. “Because none of us have ever attended ICDC in person before, getting up to top 10 was already really difficult just given the amount of people that were there. It kind of validated all the work we put in and proved that everything we did was worth it,” Tang said.
In the future, MSJ DECA officers hope to make workshops more interactive and utilize activities such as Kahoot! games while expanding DECA’s scope beyond conferences. “The first thing is increasing our chapter, increasing the number of wins we get, which is what DECA’s about, and … introducing new ideas to improve career development and things outside of just competitions, such as community service events,” Yu said. “I’m really hopeful with who the new officers are right now … I have no doubt that they’re going to do some really big things next year.”
Photos courtesy of Staff Writer Charlize Chiu