DECA places second in Maryland

By Ben Waldman

Whitman DECA had their most successful competition this season at State Finals Feb. 28 at the Marriott in Hunt Valley, Maryland. The team placed second in Maryland and qualified 22 students for International Career Development Conference, which will take place April 29 to May 2 in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Whitman did very well,” DECA co-President Lukas Troost said. “It’s our best showing for as long as I’ve been a member of DECA. Every single senior finished first in Maryland in their respective events.”

Students competed in a variety of business-related events, including finance, hospitality and marketing. The competition included two parts: a multiple choice exam on a computer and two “role-plays,” where students had to respond to a given prompt with limited time to prepare — usually about 10 minutes. Judges then ranked the competitors according to a rubric that rewards them for good presentational skills and sharp business judgements. 

DECA co-President Nathaniel Zitner received a prompt that required him to develop a plan to expand the distribution network for a handbag company.

“I’m selling everything online, but I have to choose whether to expand into pop up stores or into in-home parties as an additional source of distribution, and I have to explain why,” Zitner said. “There are a couple little tricks and techniques that I always use. I always try to identify who we should be selling to, and then what means of marketing will help us with that. If it’s old people, you might want to do Facebook ads.”

Competitors prepare for their events in weekly meetings through practice role-plays, using sample prompts on the DECA website.

“We’ve done a lot of competition prep,” Troost said. “The officers print out case studies and we give them to different members, and then we give them feedback. A lot of kids practice their role plays in front of their parents, just working on getting it down because once you’re used to the DECA format, you’re acquainted for the rest of your DECA career.”

The competition at ICDC in the spring will be intense, DECA sponsor Demitra Marafatsos said.

“When you get your role plays, you really need to bust it out of the field, hit a home run on each one of them,” she said. “There are 22,000 kids that go to these conferences, so to get even an honorable mention is an honor.”