What is DECA?
From a member’s perspective when asked, “What is DECA?” it is the experiences that we think of first. While some of us then think of the mission statement, that is not what we define or view DECA as. DECA is so much more than simply “preparing emerging leaders and entrepreneurs”. It is a holistic experience that affects so many facets of our lives, in whatever way we let it- and will even take us by surprise. Additionally, for our new members and for parents, DECA can be confusing at first. Everyone is trying to explain what DECA is through their experiences, and as Dylan Heneghan says best, “Everyone does DECA differently.” This then leads to everyone receiving and forming a different brand image.
Moving forward it is important for the unification process of the image of DECA to start in our chapters. Clear, concise, and consistent content to better the understanding of DECA will have numerous impacts. To start parents will be able to better support their children because they will be able to truly understand what kinds of support they need. Additionally, chapters will grow. As the rest of the chapter’s school can easily identify what DECA is from any of the advisors, informational meetings, handouts, and members, students will become more interested in joining. It can be difficult to attract new members when they don’t understand what you are encouraging them to take part in.
Every year DECA Inc. releases a promotional video for chapters to use but, it is not a complete comprehensive description of what is involved as part of being a member. Also, note that every association and chapter run a little bit different! These annual videos are fantastic to create a buzz and hype at interest meetings or on chapter websites to encourage people to reach out but, they need to serve as supplemental to other necessary information.
Good points that chapters should include in their content includes expectations at meetings, deadlines, information about competitions, requirements for events/competitions/membership, and any chapter specific information. Think about the day-to-day activities and expectations. How are meetings run? What happens at them? How often are they? What are attendance requirements and what to do if members can’t attend a meeting? What will they do prior to competition? At competition? The best way to improve current resources and information is to ask your newest members about their experience joining and how they felt about relayed information. The same can be done for parents. Ensuring an open line of communication between members and parents for questions is also a great way to understand what needs to be addressed and how to address concerns.
In the end, we have all felt the wonders of being a DECA member and want that to extend to others. Understanding and communication are vital for this to become a reality. Our resources are constantly evolving and growing as both DECA and our chapters progress. We should all work together to form one DECA. With 215,000 members from high schools and colleges from the United States, Canada, China, Germany, Guam, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Spain it can be easy to feel some disconnect. Every step in the direction of unification is an important one.