MBA Students Travel to Orlando, Florida for International DECA Competition

Micheal Waters, Laney Gyure, and Robert Pruitt recount their spring trip for DECA with Mrs. Tousignant and Mr. D. McKnight


Our trip to ICDC (International Career Development Conference – highest DECA competition) in Florida was an incredible adventure and almost seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity.

For context, DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) is an organization (founded in 1946) that works around the globe to help prepare students for the future by developing business, leadership, and marketing skills through academic competitions. Aside from the obvious attractions and activities we were able to participate in, the experience of being able to display and develop professionalism in each of our perspective categories was great. As well as being able to network with other students from across the globe made socializing very interesting. The combination of working, exploring, and traveling made the trip one to remember.

Having to meet at the airport at about 3:45 in the morning seemed like a stretch at first, but it was soon proven to be worth it. We arrived in Florida around 8 and made it to the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort shortly after. Getting to Florida that early allowed us to really explore the resort and relax after a long morning.

Later in the evening we went to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando for the opening ceremony. This is where all competitions and tests were held. Before the ceremony, students were exchanging their state’s pins with one another, and building their own personal collections. The ceremony was essentially an energetic welcoming to students, and a way to set the tone for competitions. After the ceremony the three of us met in the resort lobby to study for the written exam we had the next day. We wanted to make sure we could try to review a handful of concepts that could be on our tests in order to feel comfortable going into it. 

Going into testing we tried to find our testing locations quickly, however the size of the convention center made it a longer search than anticipated. After we all had finished our tests, we decided to explore the DECA pop-up store. At the pop-up store there was DECA merchandise, and colleges networking with students as well as different companies encouraging students to fill out applications for positions in their business. Afterwards, we went back to the hotel, and started to head for Disney springs.

We had an interesting Uber driver who shared some pretty interesting stories on how he ended up living in Florida. It most definitely made the overall drive more enjoyable. Once we made it to Disney Springs we explored different shops and stores until we worked up an appetite. After we ate dinner and dessert we decided to go to Icon Park. There was a ferris wheel at the park that was able to be seen from our hotel room, leading us to be pretty eager to check it out. In the end we did not end up riding the ferris wheel, but the overall scenery was enjoyable in and of itself.

Day three was the big day: Competition Day. We had to wake up fairly early to make our competition times, but this was the main event. Trying to find your competition in the midst of thousands of participants can be a little difficult, but the DECA advisors make it easier for you to find your way around. The competition process was similar to the process in the regional, and state competitions and it was pretty straight forward. Coming out of our competitors we all felt confident about our performances.

Overall, we were happy to have gotten the competitions out of the way and excited to get ready for DECA night at Universal Studios. The park was closed to the public and only opened to those participating in DECA. While there were still 22k participants, it was a cool experience nonetheless.

During the final day of our trip we had an early start to the day with the mini-awards ceremony. This is where students find out if they have advanced to the second round of competitions. It turned out that neither of the three of us had advanced to the second round, but we did not let that ruin our day. We were happy and grateful to have participated in the competition, and were ready to enjoy the rest of our day at the resort. 

“Participating at the international level for DECA was nothing short of a blessing,” Robert Pruitt says. “Aside from the feeling of success you have from achieving at such a high level; being able to display your knowledge and communicate with professionals made competing that much more enticing.”

“DECA was a great experience that not only tested but improved my networking and business skills,,” Michael Waters says. “I will always remember DECA / ICDC as an amazing trip, and I recommend it to all that are interested in the MBA program at Mentor.” 

“The experience of attending an international conference at 17 was so invaluable,” Laney Gyure says. “The connections I made as well as furthering my relationships with my peers and teachers is something amazing. ICDC will forever be an unforgettable memory.”

We would highly recommend DECA to anyone who has an interest in business in any way. There are a variety of categories to choose from that can help enhance your skills, as well as getting a taste of real world experience. From the regional competition all the way to internationals, DECA was an amazing opportunity.