As high school students, a goal in front of our minds is finding a job. Whether your dream career will require a decade of higher education or can start immediately after high school graduation, there is plenty of advice from industry leaders and professionals on how to impress employers. During the Ultimate DECA Power Trip, the Executive Officer Team attended DECA Inc.’s first ever Workforce Development Summit. Members of DECA’s National Advisory Board (NAB) gathered at the summit to discuss the future of employment and industry projections across the business world. Here is how you can put your best dress shoe forward...
1. Soft Skills are Make-Or-Break
Understanding how to properly shake hands, hold a conversation with peers and adults, listening before speaking, time management, adaptability and critical thinking are imperative skills to career success. The single largest emphasis by the summit participants was on soft skills. DECA Members get the edge from having built soft skills.
2. Practice Being Career-Minded
Does your high school offer an Excel, Word or PowerPoint certification class? Are there local retail stores hiring? Did you recently meet a professional at an event that you could send a follow-up email to thank for their time? Whether you realize it or not, there are opportunities to invest in your professional future right now. A central focus of both the “College and Career Readiness” and “Fueling the Talent Pipeline” panel discussions at the summit was getting started as early as possible. Learning to work with others, be professional and take advantage of opportunities to develop skills in various fields will be foundational to a successful career.
3. Value Yourself as a Whole Person
Burnout from exhaustion is real. A concept spoken about by industry leaders from higher education institutions was “quantum leadership.” Quantum leadership is the idea that we are all whole people, not just an employee, student or friend, depending on the time of day. Instead, we carry each o our roles and responsibilities with us through all our experiences. As you seek employment, finding a space that values you as a whole person is vital to happiness and success. In addition, taking steps to invest in every part of your life is important.
4. What should DECA Members have mastered to enter the workplace effectively?
This question was posed to panelists at the end of the summit. They answered with two key points: communication and critical thinking. Both areas constantly have opportunities to learn and grow, so let us start from the beginning. Role plays allow students to understand experiences before a life-changing career opportunity is available; take time to practice articulating your thoughts, and communication skills will develop. Secondly, seek to understand different ideas and professional roles. Complex problems require complex solutions, and critical thinking is developed from stretching your current mindset.
The best contribution you will make to the workforce is a genuine contribution. Through these tips, straight from industry leaders, we know you will be sure to get the edge in your future career.
Hadley Brown served as DECA's Southern Region Vice President during the 2022-2023 school year.