Students at Dixie State University this semester will not only use their marketing skills to compete against others students, but also in front of actual business executives and leaders.
It is DSU’s turn to host the annual State of Utah Career Development Conference Feb. 19-20. This competition is a state level of competition for all Distributive Education Clubs of America across Utah to compete against one another. DECA teams compete across 22 categories of competitions in hopes of qualifying for internationals.
Bryon Geddes, DECA adviser and a business instructor at DSU, said the judges for these competitions are generally business executives and leaders in the flesh. He said these competitions are some of the best college network opportunities he has ever seen.
“I wish I kept a log of the number of times a student was given a business card and offered a job from one of the judges after a competition,” Geddes said.
DSU made its charter in DECA in 1974 and has since created a reputation for DSU, Geddes said.
Students have to place in the top six of their competition in order to qualify for internationals. DSU DECA qualified the whole team for the first time in 2011 and has nearly reached this goal each year since. Broc Hafen, a senior business administration and web design major from St. George and DECA president, said it is aiming to take the whole team to internationals again this year.
The International Career Development Conference will be held in Washington D.C. April 16-19.
Karman Wilson, former DSU DECA member and now DECA co-adviser and assistant director for cultural arts, said the future for DSU DECA is brighter than ever with first place international winners every year, and she said she expects that number to continue to increase.
“DECA students are inspired by their advisers and peers and go on to accomplish great things in the business world,” Wilson said. “It’s experiential learning at its highest level.”
Hafen said he is a huge supporter and believer of the experiential learning experience DECA provides and said it was the reason why he didn’t drop out of college.
“It helped me actually use what I was learning in those business classes as opposed to just taking tests to prove that I knew (the skills),” Hafen said.
Hafen said the other part of DECA’s success comes from the integrity of its members.
“We don’t force anybody to be there and we don’t force anybody to do well either,” Hafen said. “Everybody who is there, wants to be there and that is why they do well.”
The ACBSP accreditation is an accreditation Geddes said is recognized and accepted by Ivy League schools.
“DECA was just one of the notches in the belt we needed for this accreditation,” Geddes said.
Geddes said the members of DECA tend to fluctuate depending on the semester. He said there are, on average, 20-30 DECA members in the fall semester, and because the competitive season is in the spring semester, it has about 40-60 students.
Geddes said DECA isn’t just for business majors but provides collegiate skills that are valuable in every academic principle and life.
“Every ideal of learning can be enhanced by looking at it through the lens of marketing,” Geddes said.
Geddes said he would take a student with a 0 GPA over a 4.0 GPA as long as the student truly loves to learn, which is hard to find in this generation.
“Instead of giving them the fish, we will teach them how to fish, how to compete, [and] how to succeed,” Geddes said.
DECA meets every Tuesday and Thursday at noon, and students also can get credit by registering for MRKT 1530R or MRKT 1540R.