Early last month, junior Anthony Levesque and first-year student Collin Clem represented EMU’s newly established Collegiate DECA Team at the State Career Development Conference in Detroit.
While many students may have been a part of such conferences throughout high school, some may be surprised to learn that there are collegiate-level conferences as well.
Clem expressed that competing with a high school-level team and with a college-level team have been two very different experiences.
“The challenges presented to you are more in-depth. In high school, they were no more difficult than, ‘You have to know what an income statement is.’ You don’t even have to know what’s in it. You just needed to know what it is and that’s about as hard as it got,” he said. “But now you have to actually know everything in the income statement and how to interpret it.”
Anyone who wishes to extend and improve their business skills is invited to join the team in preparing for such conferences in the fall 2019 semester. Competition categories pertain to a variety of business-related fields, including public relations, hospitality, tourism, finance and communications. Clem, a finance major, notes that students who were not a part of DECA in high school should not be deterred from joining a collegiate-level team.
“It’s definitely beginner friendly. In high school, I just walked in. I didn’t even know what a roleplay was at the first competition,” he said. “It’s very self-explanatory. They list the criteria you need to meet and you just need to go through each one and hit each point.”
Levesque placed third in Managerial Accounting and Clem finished in second place in Financial Accounting. The two also earned first place as a team in Financial Statement Analysis. Clem and Levesque will go on to compete on a global level at the International Career Development Conference in Orlando, Florida in April. Their goal is to finish in the top ten.
“Last year, the first place at national conference was a team from Central Michigan [University],” explained Levesque. “We want to continue that trend of Michigan teams winning in our event.”
Over 200,000 high school students around the globe participate in competitions organized by DECA every year. This nonprofit organization aims to foster students’ interest in and understanding of business-related careers. Competitors are typically presented with hypothetical problems that a real-life business might face and must devise a solution that meet given criteria. Others may be asked to give a prepared presentation. Clem says that his experience has helped him discover and confirm what he hopes to achieve in college and beyond.
“[DECA] made me find my major. I thought about computer science or something along those lines . . . and then I joined DECA and was just kind of placed in Financial Services,” he said. “I was watching stock market videos and stuff like that beforehand and never really thought much of it, but now I was putting that language to use in an actual situation, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I love doing this.’ . . . It just felt right, I continued, and now I’m majoring in Finance.”
Levesque believes that DECA can help many other students to explore potential career paths.
“Any students that have an interest can easily join this club and discover whether or not whether they want a career in business, rather than going out to do an internship and taking maybe a summer or an entire year to figure out whether that industry is for them.”
The current team hopes that new members will fill the spaces that will soon be left by graduating seniors. In future meetings, students can expect to be introduced to the competition format and guided through the information they need to know. Interested students are encouraged to contact either Levesque, who serves as the club’s president (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Clem (email@example.com).