What Happens at a #DECAICDC Leadership Academy?

During my freshman year of high school, I took part in the Leadership Development Academy at DECA’s International Career Development Conference. At that point in time, I wasn’t too sure of what it meant to be a leader, or what skills were needed to start an initiative and make an impact.

The leadership academy experience starts by sitting down at a random table with other DECA members from around the world who you don’t know at all. After some quiet introductions at the table, the workshop leaders began their session. One of the first things they did was guaranteed that we would be very loud and excited for the “graduation” at the end of the conference. I found this quite hard to believe, considering how shy we all were at the time.

However, time went on, and we soon found ourselves showing our true personalities, as we got more comfortable with everyone else in the academy. We were put into different color groups, I was in the orange group, and we spent the first part of the day working on coming up with a group cheer to motivate the team. As each group did the same, we soon developed a deep love for our group and rivalry began to form between the others. When we met in the hallways for instance, we would try to see who could sing their cheer the loudest.

Aside from the color group rivalries, we quickly found ourselves immersed in very in-depth lessons that taught us fundamental leadership concepts. We learned about how to get more involved with a team and how to motivate others. There was also an extremely fun session where we had to use LEGO bricks to improve our communication skills.

One of the most useful sessions was about networking. The workshop really taught me how to approach someone in a professional business environment, and what I should discuss with him or her. We were also given the opportunity to practice these techniques with our fellow group members, and ask questions in case we did not fully understand the skills.

The workshops are also all accompanied by fun times, like singing and dancing with team members, and making life-long memories. At the end of the academy, we had the chance to do the Harlem shake too!

The closing ceremony was, as promised, very loud! The entire experience culminated into a sad goodbye, but the memories made and concepts learned would last forever. The strong skillset built during this academy has definitely made a huge impact on my life as a high school student and will continue to impact the decision I make in the future.

The leadership academies at DECA’s International Career Development Conference are nothing short of spectacular, and you will get to learn a lot about the business world, while at the same time having lots of fun. If you have the chance to attend one during your time as a DECA member, I highly encourage you to go for it!

Follow Rushi on Twitter @RushiGajaria.

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