JWU Takes on DECA ENGAGE Conference

 Author Makena Warfield '24 is a Media & Communications Studies major and works as a student assistant at JWU, contributing to JWU News.

It’s beneficial to get involved in National Student Organizations (NSOs) as it helps provide you with networking, job, and professional development opportunities. I joined JWU’s DECA chapter in 2022, and being a part of this organization has allowed me to expand my résumé in ways that I didn’t think were possible. I've been able to enrich my career knowledge, enhance my leadership skills, and even travel with the team to conferences. We recently headed to Kansas City for the DECA ENGAGE Conference. 

If all this sounds interesting to you, here’s what to know about DECA and the opportunities it provides. 

What is DECA? 

Collegiate DECA is one of the most recognized academic clubs in America. Recognized by the Department of Education, it allows you to participate in competitions while getting to network with industry professionals. DECA helps you to achieve your goals by enhancing your career knowledge and putting them to work through DECA’s rigorous project-based activities.  For example, we often have case study competitions that have us think of real- world solutions in a short amount of time.  

What is the DECA ENGAGE Conference? 

Each fall, college students from across the country get the opportunity to attend DECA’s ENGAGE Conference. At this year’s conference, DECA members took part in career building and networking, gaining valuable advice from employers who offered their time to help in the competition boot camp. This boot camp is a mock competition to help prepare students for the real competition that happens in the spring at the International Career Development Conference (ICDC). “As someone who attended ENGAGE for the first time this year, I can safely say that the connections you make from this conference can be beneficial to your future if utilized correctly,” says Maryam Amin, a collegiate DECA executive vice president.  

“Collegiate DECA’s ENGAGE Conference is an invaluable experience that provides all DECA members awesome networking opportunities, real-world business challenges, and professional development, at one amazing destination!” says Emma Rose, a collegiate DECA executive vice president. “Attending ENGAGE will leave you inspired and motivated, both in the world of DECA and beyond.” 

JWU DECA students in a groupJWU'S TEAM AT THE 2023 DECA ENGAGE CONFERENCE.

Key takeaways from ENGAGE 

At JWU, we welcomed a total of 12 new DECA members to our chapter this past year, some of whom are experiencing DECA for the very first time. ENGAGE was the perfect chance for them to network with other chapters from across the country while becoming closer to our chapter members. “My favorite part about ENGAGE was being able to travel cross-country with people from different states with the same interests and try new food with the other members of our chapter,” says Sunny Sysomphou ’27, a digital marketing & social media major.  

At the ENGAGE Conference, I got to meet chapters from other universities that I didn’t know previously, such as one from my hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada.  Besides meeting new people, I learned one-on-one from employers about their career paths. Apart from meeting with employers, I had the opportunity to ask questions that would help strengthen my knowledge in a corporate environment. Something that I learned that really stuck with me was not to be afraid to challenge yourself by taking on jobs that require a range of new skills. 

What’s coming up next for DECA? 

Now that the 2023 ENGAGE Conference is over, we’re looking forward to the opportunity to go to Austin, Texas for ICDC in April 2024, where we'll have the chance to compete against each other and other colleges. “I am so excited about ICDC. Unfortunately, I won’t be there, but I don’t doubt our team will represent,” says Rebecca Benowitz ’26, a Baking and Pastry Arts with Food and Bev Entrepreneurship major. “I can’t wait to see the DECA glass be brought home.” (The “DECA glass” is the trophy students receive for winning the competition.) 

JWU’S NSO Scholarship 

As an active member of JWU’s DECA chapter, I can tell you we're always looking for more members. Plus, if you were or are currently a part of DECA in high school, you could be eligible for an NSO scholarship at Johnson & Wales. As I said, there are so many benefits to joining! 

Learn more about NSOs at JWU  

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