"We're a young chapter with a competitive spark."
That's how senior Laine Hettel described his award-winning DECA team following its outstanding performance at the 2018 DECA international Career Development Conference this month in Washington, D.C.
DECA, formerly Distributive Education Clubs of America, is an international association of nearly 4,000 high schools and colleges that prepares students for success in fields such as marketing, finance, hospitality and management. Competitions involve written examinations, case statement preparation and role-playing simulations.
Hettel, the CMU chapter president of DECA, has been preparing his team for the competition for eight months. He scheduled weekly professional development workshops covering everything from leadership styles to professional dress and interview skills.
"Our group was much more comfortable talking to the judges, because we had practiced professional etiquette and presentation skills. Professionalism can make the difference between a good score and a great score," he said.
Practice pays off
Several CMU students were finalists in the top 10 in their categories: Elise Zawacki, a senior studying human resource management, Savannah Fullmer, a junior double majoring in marketing and information systems, and Natalie Wallace, a senior in the general management program.
Hettel and his teammate William Dunn, a senior majoring in finance, took first place in the financial statement analysis competition.
"It really feels amazing to know that I made a positive difference and helped them accomplish their goals. I wanted to make sure that they felt confident and prepared to the best of their abilities, and that showed in their success at competition," he said.
Experience leads to job success
Hettel balanced his DECA responsibilities with increasingly challenging classes and work for his fraternity, Beta Theta Pi.
"I used a calendar to set aside specific time slots to focus on school work, DECA, mock interviewing, and fraternity events and commitments. I never really had free time, as there was always something to do to get ahead or catch up."
The hard work was worth it when the job offer from Stanley Black & Decker arrived. Beginning this summer, Hettel will be a financial analyst in the company's leadership development program.