How DECA Helped Me: I Didn’t Get The Job, I Got Something Better

Rohan Nipunge | ThunderRidge DECA

DECA has certainly given me many experiences I will value forever. Over the last two years, I had a chance to collaborate with the Schomp Automotive Group many times for DECA related activities. Partnering with a local, reputable and quickly developing business, which has grown to seven car dealerships in just five years, has both taught me about successful company structures and sparked my passion for the automotive industry.

I decided early in my sophomore year to attempt to gain an employment opportunity with the company, despite being only 15-years-old. My time in DECA has certainly given me confidence in my decisions! Ultimately, I did not receive the opportunity I hoped to acquire. Regardless, I consider this an invaluable experience. I gained insight into corporate structure, professional communication and the interview process.

Here are my biggest takeaways from my experience:

1. Be fearless. It never hurts to ask for an opportunity.

Meeting business employees may seem daunting at first, but without bravely approaching them, they won’t know the talent you have! Through my DECA experience, I have become used to speaking with professionals more than twice my age. Though you may not always get a response or the opportunity you are seeking, somtimes you will. If you don’t make the ask, you’re simply guaranteeing you won’t have the chance.

2. Do your research and get comfortable conveying your passion.

An employer won’t employ you if you don’t demonstrate passion and have an understanding of the company or brand. Through prior partnerships with Schomp, not only did I find my passion for cars, but I also learned the unique techniques of how their motto had created a reputable corporate environment in which clients felt comfortable to buy cars. This passion is what got me a second (and third) interview at age 15.

3. Prepare for the unexpected questions.

Business is never rainbows and sunshine. Challenges are inevitable. This question caught me off-guard and I realized later that I never really gave them an honest answer.  I continued expressing how unique and perfect the Schomp brand is – that it is unlike other car dealers. It was almost as if I was selling their brand rather than my personal brand.  In the future, I will use a similar question to tell them that I am passionate and hungry to learn. I recognize that I will face challenges and I will encounter things I have not experienced before. That, however, is part of what excites me. DECA has shown me that I am capable of conquering new tasks and tackling challenges. So, Future Interviewer, go ahead and ask me the tough questions.  

Without DECA, I would be hesitant to even approach such large businesses. I’ve learned that I will encounter a few unsuccessful attempts. In fact, that’s a good thing. It means I am pushing myself to go farther and work harder. The important thing is to persist and keep trying in the face of failure or rejection because, although those are tough words to hear, they are often the experiences that can teach us the most. Personally, I know that this experience will elevate me to new heights and I’m excited to pursue even more opportunities this year, exhibiting the passion that DECA has brought to me.


This article was written by Rohan Nipunge of ThunderRidge DECA. Follow ThunderRidge DECA on Twitter @TRHSDECA. Follow DECA Inc. on Twitter @DECAInc. 

Categories: Career Advice, College & Career Advice, Tips For Finding A Job