This past Saturday I participated in the 2015 NorCal DECA Career Development Conference. DECA is a 70-year-old organization that works with high school and college kids preparing them as entrepreneurs and leaders in a variety of business disciplines. The conference was an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to analyze several business scenario and present their ideas and plans to a series of judges. It was a day of skill building and indeed competition.
I was one of those judges for the day and enjoyed every minute. Throughout the day I sat down with nearly 20 different high school kids, each with 10 minutes to impress me with their knowledge, unique ideas and overall presentation.
I lost track of what we call this generation of high school aged kids. Are they part of the Millennial Generation (Generation Y) or the new flock called Generation Z (or iGeneration)? Either way it is my generation of the early day Generation X crowd in position to help these young leaders as they prepare themselves to move into the world of business and enterprise. After my experience on Saturday I am more confident on how well this next generation will contribute to the world.
I never heard of DECA before a friend asked me to participate as a judge for this regional event. I went into the day prepared to judge participants in Human Resources Management and instead they asked me to join the Food Marketing judging group as they were a judge short. I am sure “adaptability” is one of the tenets taught to the kids through the program. So I led by example and was a food marketing executive for the day. Fun and interesting indeed.
The kids as a whole were amazing, full of enthusiasm and eagerness to succeed. The focus was on development for all the kids, yet it was a competition as well and thus the need for the well structured judging process. There were a few 16-year-old kids that already had the skill set and great ideas to work today in Marketing for any number of businesses. The day was full of possibility and a focus on achievement.
I am not sure if the kids or us judges got more from the event. For me, the event was perfect timing as I am deep into my career transition. Oh the possibilities out there even for an older Generation X guy like myself.
I invite you to educate yourself on DECA and the terrific work they do with high schools and colleges. More so, I invite you to search out an opportunity to get involved as a judge for one of the regional events in your area. This includes countries outside the United States including Canada, Germany, China, and Mexico. I certainly plan to do it again.