November is National DECA month. In case you’re not familiar with it, DECA, formerly known as the Distributive Education Clubs of America, is an association of students and teachers that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.
Career Fuel caught up with Peter Shivery, 17, as he prepared to travel to Washington, D.C., on Nov. 16 to attend the Ultimate DECA Power Trip, a weekend leadership meeting for DECA members to learn in the career areas of marketing, entrepreneurship, finance, hospitality, management and public affairs. Shivery, a senior at Cherry Hill High School East and southern region vice president for New Jersey DECA, was looking forward to an intense learning experience. “Marriott execs will be talking about Marriott’s marketing strategy,” said Shivery. “National DECA officers are doing a dress-for-success workshop. All these things focus on different areas of marketing. I’m hoping to get some knowledge about brand image.”
Shivery, who has been a DECA member since freshman year of high school when he took an intro to business class, credits the club for much more than teaching him how to run a business, which he says is a misconception about DECA’s focus. More importantly, he says, he has built his leadership and personal communication skills. “Marketing is a really broad term,” noted Shivery, who plans to major in economics and business management in college and go on to law school. “It can be marketing yourself or marketing your business. Specifically, I’ve learned about marketing myself and interacting with others. You get to know about people’s lives through these conferences. One DECA slogan two years ago was “Expand Your Network,” and I believe DECA is an organization that helps you to do this.”
According to Shivery, marketing yourself is about connecting with others. “When you enter a conversation with somebody, you need to connect with them somehow. It’s all about connecting your life to theirs,” he said. “You find a similar topic and talk about it. Through that similar topic, you’ll be able to find out a lot more about each other. Eventually, that person you’re talking to might be your future boss or an employer who is looking for a new employee—and you will already have a great connection with them.”
If you’re interested in starting a DECA chapter at your school, Christopher Young, DECA Inc. high school division director, suggests taking the following steps: