On Feb. 23, DECA students went to the Embassy Suites in Eastgate to participate in the Pacific Northwest Career Development Conference. Students who attended had the opportunity to gain experience in marketing, business, finance and hospitality through competitions and speaking with business leaders.
“There are 25 different events students can compete in, which are spread across four categories,” explained Kyle Barber, Marketing Management professor and director of the Bellevue DECA team. Among the events, most are unprepared case studies and some are prepared presentations on topics that the students choose.
The business category teaches skills such as business research, starting and growing a business, business ethics and healthcare management. The marketing category teaches skills such as marketing management, digital marketing, advertising and sales management. Finance teaches skills like accounting, corporate finance and financial statement analysis while hospitality teaches skills like travel and tourism, hotel management and event planning.
DECA students went to the conference to learn these specific skills, but more importantly learn how to use those skills and apply them to real world situations. “The primary focus of DECA is developing critical thinking skills.
Employers want to find graduates who are self-starters and have strong problem solving skills. DECA helps develop this, which gives participants advantages when it comes to finding a professional career,” said Barber.
This year, more DECA students could attend the conference since the Embassy Suites are close to Bellevue College. Next for DECA is the national competition, held in Los Angeles. “Because of the high cost of travel, we will have to make judicious choices on which students will advance to the next level,” said Barber.
Other coaches besides Kyle Barber at the conference will be Will Blowers of marketing and Irene Ferrante of business. “As the size of the team grows, the hope is that more faculty across a wide range of departments will step up to lead different events,” added Barber.
During the competition at the conference, students will be assessed and judged by leaders in each event’s particular industry. Many of the leaders often ask for students’ contact information so they can communicate after the competition about if they are impressed with their skills. “This is one of the most exciting opportunities that arise from participating in DECA, as networking is crucial to advancing one’s career,” said Barber.
Bellevue’s DECA team was formed in 2014. Since its establishment, DECA has won 21 state championships. Their first year they sent 23 students and came back with three state championships, and their second year they sent 52 students and came back with 18 state championships. The organization’s goal is to help students develop skills that can be used in professional settings, by teaching leadership and community skills.