Eighteen Kettering University students left the 2016 Michigan Collegiate DECA Career Development Conference February 5-7 in Grand Rapids with 18 awards, including five first place awards.
“I’m very pleased with them and proud of them,” said Karen Cayo, interim department head of Kettering’s Department of Business and faculty advisor for the University’s DECA team.
The Kettering students earned five first place awards, five second place awards, three third place awards and six honorable mentions. Cayo was also presented with an advisor award for her continued support of the program.
There are more than 15,000 Collegiate DECA members. DECA is designed to prepare students to be emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management.
Kettering students were tested on their interview skills and resumes, role-played as industry professionals and did case studies with problem solving. There was also prepared events in front of judges where students present a business plan for entrepreneurship, how to grow their small business or create an advertising plan for a product, for example. Along with the support of Cayo, Kettering students had the support of Ken Williams, visiting lecturer in the Business Department and co-advisor of the DECA group.
Madeline Geffert ‘19, B-Section DECA president, and her partner Alex Witt earned a state championship in the Prepared Event Emerging Technology Marketing Strategies. That involved creating a comprehensive marketing strategy for a cruise ship company that included print, web, and mobile app design, branding identity, social media strategy, budgeting and market research.
Geffert, a Business Administration major, was also awarded second place in Fashion Merchandising and Marketing, which was an individual business simulation designed to challenge students to perform marketing and management functions in retail establishments. She was also a state finalist for the event Executive Job Interview.
“I am exceptionally proud of the Kettering DECA chapter. Although it came as no surprise, I was so gratified watching one after another as Kettering students kept getting called on stage to be awarded,” Geffert said. “For the past few months, they’ve all been preparing diligently and were very supportive of one another, which revealed itself as nearly all of our members will be attending Internationals.”
The DECA International Career Development Conference is in Washington, D.C. in April.
Geffert has been involved in DECA since high school and the Kettering collegiate team was a factor that influenced her decision to attend Kettering. DECA allowed her to get real life experience outside of the classroom while she was in high school and it has taught her many more meaningful lessons in college.
“Not only do you get a glimpse of practical business scenarios, you are also pushed out of your comfort zone by having to think on your feet, so I especially recommend DECA for people who would like to improve their public speaking skills and general creativity,” Geffert said. “I can’t stress enough that even if you’re not planning on pursuing a career in business, DECA can be instrumental in your growth as a professional in your respective field.”
Being able to develop connections with those like-minded and motivated individuals has been invaluable and has allowed her to further cultivate a direction for her career, she said.
The Kettering students went up against eight other Michigan colleges, Cayo said, but it was their co-op experience that helped them stand out in the competition.
“They’re asked for their opinions during the competition. During their time at Kettering and during their co-op experiences, the student learn how to articulate it and they’re not afraid to give their ideas and opinions to their boss,” Cayo said. “They learn how valuable their education is. They learn how to conduct themselves in a business setting.”
DECA and Geffert’s co-op experience attributed to her growth as a business professional, she said.
“DECA was able to present me with real-life business situations to prepare me for my co-op,” she said. “However having been employed at my co-op for several terms now, my DECA presentations have gained a sense of authenticity because my knowledge of marketing has increased.”