Students: looking for a way to sharpen your communication, leadership and analytical skills, build your network and stand out to employers as you hatch your career? Look no further than DECA U, an undergraduate business association dedicated to the professional development of its members.
DECA U is an organization we’re already familiar with at TalentEgg – we’ve featured both Queen’s University’s and the University Of Guelph-Humber’s chapters in our Student Group Of The Week feature. The umbrella organization for all chapters across Ontario and Quebec, DECA U is represented at Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Waterloo, York University, the University of Toronto, the University of Ottawa, and a dozen more. We spoke with DECA U’s VP of Marketing and Sponsorship, Dane Gomez, about DECA U’s initiatives, how he got to where he is and why the DECA U name speaks for itself.
From business competition to Board of Directors
Dane knew that DECA U was the right group for him after joining the University of Toronto’s chapter in his first year and competing in Provincials. The pinnacle of each chapter’s year-long endeavours, Provincials is an annual case competition and networking event where members (individually or in teams) tackle problems in different categories such as B2B, accounting, financial services, and entertainment in an allotted time, then pitch their ideas to a group of judges.
“It gives you great practical experience”, Dane says. “In other case competitions, you’re given the whole day. But at Provincials, depending on the category or team you’re on, you’re given as little as 15 minutes to come up with an effective solution to a real-world problem.”
Dane had such a positive experience as part of DECA UofT that he wanted to contribute in a bigger way, giving back to the organization as a whole. Last year, he applied to the Executive Team of DECA UTSC and from there, leapt to his current position on the Board of Directors at DECA U. Now, as VP of Marketing and Sponsorship, he’s able to give back to DECA U. And here’s how in the organization’s grand scale:
“I’m responsible for branding the organization across every communication platform, like social media, and facilitating partnerships to get the word out there. In my time as VP of Marketing and Sponsorship, our awesome team has seen a 700% growth in Facebook likes and support. In regards to reach, at one point we reached a record of 70,000 people in one week.”
What DECA U does for you
His success in growing the DECA U membership base is likely because of his sincere passion for the work the organization does, and the opportunities and support it provides to students. Describing the organization as a “family of 2000” that accepts bright young minds from any discipline (not just Business students!), he easily lists off the ways his involvement with DECA has helped him develop both personally and professionally.
Competing in Provincials forces you to exercise your analytical and communication skills, coming up with strategic solutions in a high pressure situation and explaining why you chose them.
“You’re given a confined amount of time to come up with a real-world solution and have to communicate that to a panel of judges. In your career, you’re going to have to convince your managers and bosses of your plans and ideas and communicate the reason why you chose them effectively. Provincials equips students with the skills to handle something they’ll experience in the corporate world, making them more accountable and more confident when they do.”
On a larger scale, DECA U offers networking opportunities to its members that can go a long way in helping them hatch their careers. Dane, who plans to pursue a career in marketing, recalls meeting an executive from a certain high-powered television network at one of their events, who told Dane to give him a call once he graduated. As well, being affiliated with the DECA name alone says something about you as an individual that makes employers take notice.
“The longevity and prestige of the organization vouches for you as a candidate. A great reputation is transferable.”
Memories and experiences to last a lifetime
Still, Dane’s most memorable experience with the organization comes back to Provincials. Though he no longer competes as a Board of Directors member, it has remained as one of the most rewarding and exciting parts of his year.
“Seeing all of the members’ hard work come together, the leadership of chapter Presidents in play, and the family atmosphere in full swing definitely makes all of the hard work and stress throughout the year worth it. University is what you make of it – at the end of the day, you’re not going to remember the midterms, you’re going to remember the experiences and relationships.”
Want to learn more about DECA U and Provincials? Head to www.decau.ca or download their Provincials information package here. To see which schools DECA U is represented at (or to start your own school’s chapter!) head here. For the latest from DECA U, check out their news section.