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Business club opens doors to new members

One of Washington State University Vancouver’s leading business clubs is looking to expand its membership.

Michael McNeil is vice president of development for Collegiate DECA, the local chapter of an international association of students and educators focused on careers in marketing, finance and other sectors. While DECA’s membership has been traditionally restricted to officers, McNeil said the club is now seeking to increase its official membership by including other members.

According to the organization’s website, DECA was founded in 1946. With headquarters in Virginia, the organization currently has 275 collegiate chapters and 15,000 collegiate members.

DECA is open to students of all majors, but it tends to attract students of business and related fields, McNeil said, because of the opportunity it provides to get hands on experience with industry professionals.

Professors Ron Pimentel and Thomas Tripp are faculty advisors of DECA at WSU Vancouver.  Pimentel studies marketing and Tripp focuses on management at the Carson College of Business. Throughout the semester, Pimentel and Tripp invite business professionals from the local community to speak on topics ranging from dressing for success to resume, cover letter and interview skills.

Company representatives are also encouraged to speak about opportunities within their organization ­— and to recruit potential employees. McNeil said that the experience at DECA allows its members to obtain skills they can use in their future jobs, as well as an opportunity to make connections with employers.

“If you are looking to get a good job out of college, this is how people got there,” McNeil said. “Just to put on your resume that you were a member of DECA, that stands you out from the crowd.”

According to McNeil, students often get recruited after talking to professionals at events, pocketing a business card or exchanging contact information. Many students from the business school have also been able to find internships at club meetings, McNeil said.

Representatives from UPS, Amazon and Tom James clothiers have recently spoken at WSU Vancouver as a result of DECA’s outreach efforts.

This spring, DECA plans to host an event that shows students how to negotiate a job offer. The event will feature local entrepreneurs and other experts on  the subject. DECA is also planning to host a LinkedIn tutorial session and a business student tell-all.

Programs hosted by DECA include the annual “Dress for Success” forum with speaker Marc Cleve from Tom James, and “Understanding Credit” with employees from Columbia Credit Union. Each fall the club also hosts a “Workspace Organization” event with a speaker from Workplace Oregon. The company donates a custom chair to the winner of a sales competition.

Last semester, Tom James donated a $1,500 suit to the club as a raffle prize. Raffle tickets sold for $10, and DECA raised over $1,500 to support club activities.  “The company is a great friend of the college here,” Pimentel said in reference to Tom James, which has offered the club similar support in previous years.

As members of DECA, students also have the opportunity to participate in intercollegiate competitions. These high-octane events pit WSU Vancouver’s business students against chapters at other colleges and universities.

In a typical DECA competition, students have 10 minutes to study a hypothetical business scenario, before presenting their solution and responding to five follow up questions. Students also have the option of developing and presenting a business plan. The club will be participating in such a competition next month.

Students interested in obtaining more information about DECA can contact the club’s president, Honor Stevenson, at honor.stevenson@wsu.edu.

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