DECA Got Me Out Of My Comfort Zone And Into An Incredible Job

DECA Got Me Out Of My Comfort Zone And Into An Incredible Job

Next time you wonder how to prepare yourself to get a job in the future, think DECA.

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DECA is a business club that is offered at high school and collegiate levels. It provides students with real-world experiences that relate to the specific field they want to pursue as a career.

DECA stands by their mission which is to, "Prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe."

DECA hosts two annual competitions/conferences which include state and nationals. The competition consists of either a case study or a presentation. Both of which are presented in front of one to three judges. The judges are a group of diverse business professionals who volunteer their time to give students authentic and realistic feedback. The main difference between case studies and presentations are that case studies are unprepared and a presentation is prepared.

There are many different business fields that students are able to choose from based on their knowledge and skills. For example, last academic year I competed in the Fashion Merchandising and Marketing case studies. I took on the challenge to presume the role of a Marketing Director for a company (stated in the case study) and come up with a creative idea to market towards customers. Whereas a presentation is prepared before competition by writing and paper and creating a slideshow.

Before I joined DECA as a junior in high school, I was not able to speak in front of crowds or groups of people. I lacked a leadership mindset and was shy in teamwork settings. Looking back I would've never imagined being the person I am today. Currently, I'm the president of the Western Washington University DECA chapter.

Now, you're are probably thinking, what does this school club have to do with getting a job?

1. This club expanded my networking abilities immensely. DECA's competitions/conferences allow all members to come together and network with one another.

2. When attending DECA competitions/conferences, all students are required to dress in formal business attire. This correlates with the motto "If you look good, you feel good." By dressing in formal business attire, it automatically displays professionalism and grows confidence in yourself which is shown when presenting.

3. Being able to hold an officer position in DECA allows students leadership abilities to thrive. There are many positions in DECA similar to a sustainable business such as President, Vice President, VP of Marketing, VP of Finance, VP of Operations Management, etc.

4. Communication and speaking skills are one of the most important qualities DECA provides. The competition challenges students to use a broader vocabulary, wider knowledge base, and appropriate word choice when in a professional setting.

All of these elements combined allowed me to obtain a job in my chosen field. It takes time and determination to go out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there. However, it's worth it in the long run. DECA shaped me into the person I am today, who is now professional, confident, talkative, and is able to take on any task presented to me.

Next time you wonder how to prepare yourself to get a job in the future, think DECA.

Cover Image Credit:

Schantell Hummel

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Sorry, Real Life Doesn't Have A "Safe Space" For Your Excuses

Your excuses are invalid. Take responsibility for your actions.

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If I had a penny for every time I heard a college student use a pathetic excuse to get out of something, I would be a millionaire. It seems like every other person I meet these days has zero sense of responsibility in life. They're too sensitive, too unmotivated and just all around lazy. What's up with that?

Something that I don't think a lot of college students realize is that when this is all over, you get thrown out into the real world. You can't email your boss asking for project extensions; they will laugh in your face. You can't use "I have anxiety" as an excuse to get out of doing something. You can't get butthurt every time your boss comes down on your for not doing adequate work. That is life.

Sorry, but real life doesn't have a safe space for you. Your future employer won't baby you and hold your hand every step of the way. You won't be able to call in sick and skip work 3 times a week like you skip class. The real world has expectations and believe it or not, they are WAY more grueling than college.

People will judge you. You will get yelled at by your boss. Hard deadlines will be expected to be met. If you can't deal with it now, good luck to you out there because it only gets harder. I understand that everyone has their own issues in life, but if other people can get past theirs enough to work hard and be successful, your excuse is simply that: an excuse.

Life was never meant to be easy. The whole reason we applied to college was to be challenged and readied for our future careers. I will bet that almost every college student promised themselves they would work harder in college. Giving excuses isn't working harder, it's looking for the easy way out. The easy way might seem better in the short run, but it teaches you nothing and prepares you for nothing. Not to mention, people will get to know you as "that one moron that always has an excuse to not do their work." I don't know about everyone else, but that is the LAST way I would want to be known.

Instead of making an excuse, work harder. Be responsible. Meet deadlines, do your work early, manage your time. It really is simple when you look at it that way. Yeah, life gets stressful. Are you going to be the person who begs for their "safe space" and cries or are you going to get going and do what needs to be done? I know which person I would hire, that's for sure.

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Yes, Mom, I Want To Study The Ocean When I Grow Up

I'm determined to make every child's dream my reality.

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Throughout my life, I've been to the beach three times. I'm from a rural area in central Kentucky, and the nearest ocean is at least nine hours away. However, I remember each time I visited the ocean quite vividly. The salty water is an emerald green to crystal clear blue (it depends on who you ask, honestly), and it's always mesmerized me. The world's oceans cover 71% of our planet, yet we know almost nothing about what lies beneath the water's surface. The ocean has always fascinated me, but I never really gave it much thought as a child - I just knew that I loved swimming in it.

Career planning is a big part of any child's life, and I'm definitely not an exception. I've wanted to pursue many different careers - I've dreamt of being everything from a doctor to a lawyer, but none of those aspirations were based on doing what I loved, what I was passionate about. It's important to note that although I've grown up in an inland state, I've spent much of my life in water. I've been swimming since age two, and as a fourth-year swimmer and senior in high school, I'm now Varsity Team Captain of my high school's swim team. I'm very much at home in the water, and I see now the role that this has played in my future career endeavors.

I never thought about pursuing a degree in Marine Science until this past July, on vacation in Destin, Florida. I sat on a boat in the middle of the ocean, parasailing on the Gulf Coast in Florida like the tourist that I was when all of a sudden, a school of dolphins began to hunt in the waters around the boat. I watched them as they swam through the water, having most likely stumbled upon a school of fish that looked like they would make a great lunch. I was instantly mesmerized by these dolphins, and this experience spurred a passion inside of me that has always been there, I just didn't know it yet.

In the days after I arrived back in Kentucky, I began researching the Marine Science field and all that you can do in it. You can do everything from coral reef conservation to studying shark migration habits. You can travel the world studying the ocean and its inhabitants, and there are many more opportunities around the world than one might think. The world's oceans are rapidly deteriorating and it's vital now more than ever to study and learn about them so that we can better protect them. As wide and vast as the world's oceans are, it's easy to find something that interests you and with drive and determination, it's certainly possible to build a career doing what you love where you love.

As a second-semester high school senior enrolling at Troy University this fall, I've decided that I truly do desire to study the ocean, and I aspire to build my life around it. You see, I've never been one to want a job that simply pays the bills and pays well. Work should excite you - it should fulfill you and genuinely motivate you to be a better person. I'm a firm believer that if more people in our nation and the world woke up every day excited to go to work and loved their work, our world would be a better place.

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