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.