Debunking the ICDC Myth

Every year I stress to my chapter members that once they qualify for the International Career Development Conference, they shouldn’t stop preparing for the next level of competition. Too often many competitors treat ICDC as their reward and don’t think they have a serious shot at getting on stage to win. I hope to shine some light on this myth and make you think twice about cracking open your practice cluster exams or reviewing your performance indicators before heading off to ICDC.

The first thing to impress upon you is the fact that ICDC is a whole new ballgame. It doesn’t matter what place you took in your event at your local, state, or provincial competition.  Nothing at ICDC is based on your previous competitive event results. For example, I once had a young woman place eighth overall in the Restaurant & Food Service Management Series at the Wisconsin DECA SCDC. When we got to ICDC, she was the only competitor from Wisconsin to advance to finals in her event. This means that the seven competitors that placed higher than her at our state conference were left to watch her be called to stage to receive her finalist medal. 

Another common misconception is that you are competing against 180-190 competitors in your series. Technically that is correct. But, in actuality, you are competing against 18-19 students in your section. Those 18-19 students in your section are vying to earn medals for each of your two role-plays in your preliminary competition if you are in an Individual Series event. You are also trying to be the best competitor(s) in your section when taking into account your exam score. The top ten test takers will be awarded in each event with a medal. In addition, the role-play scores and your exam will be added together and the top two competitors or teams from each section will move on to finals. 

When you are competing in finals, you are now competing against the top two competitors or teams from each section. So this means you are down to about 20 top competitors or teams from your series.  You then wipe out your previous role-play scores and your final role play score is used along with your test that you took previously. This should really drive home the importance of doing well on your cluster exam. 

When you break it down this way, you may start to see that you will be competing against less people at ICDC than you did at your district, state or provincial competition.

If you are competing in a written project area, the competition breakdown works similarly to the series events. You are competing against sections of students, typically 18-19 entries, and you are trying to advance to finals.  You may also have to factor in a written exam if your project area requires this as a component of competition. The one area that will really make or break you in the written project areas is penalty points. Check the Written Entry Checklist and make sure you will not be getting penalty points deducted from your written project entry. If you do, you can be sure you won’t be making it to finals.

I know at ICDC you will be doing a lot of fun activities and you should be taking time to network and meet with members from around the globe, explore the local attractions and scenery, visit the exhibitors in the convention center and more. But, why not use this remaining time you have before ICDC to really prepare to do the best you possibly can in Anaheim? How cool would it be to fly back to your hometown with a trophy from ICDC in your hands or with a medal hanging around your neck?

Good luck and I hope you make it on stage this year!

Follow Keegan on Twitter @AEastDECA and @TheRealKeeganOB

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