This article originally appeared in the summer 2014 Harker Quarterly.
The year started at a sprint and ended with a bang for DECA and the new business and entrepreneurship department (B.E.) – and all of the participants earned a well-deserved summer break. B.E. finished a historic first year with record sign-ups for the upcoming school year, while DECA finished with its best-ever International Career Development Conference (ICDC).
DECA is an international organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. The DECA chapter’s trip to the ICDC in Atlanta yielded excellent results, with three top five finishes across various competitions and two more in the top 20, making it Harker’s best performance at the competition. Attendee Raymond Xu, grade 9, said, “DECA ICDC topped off this year as a showcase of our abilities, and we not only represented Harker but all of California as well.” Harker’s DECA chapter, which sent a record 24 students to the conference, plans to build on this momentum at future international DECA events.
The DECA chapter also is running an ongoing set of interactive simulations as part of its Team Business/Wharton School of Business program, intended to help students learn how businesses are actually run. Juston Glass, B.E. chair, said he has received “hands-on certification [to teach] students to not just learn theory but [the] actual practice” of how to run a business.
Students have responded very positively to the program. Adarsh Battu, grade 12, said, “Because of the way the simulation is structured, we are encouraged to analyze, innovate and ask questions that are important to running a business,” and that the simulation has “taught me a lot more than I initially expected.”
Meanwhile, the DECA chapter is engaged in a social media contest to pick the theme for a conference it will host in August. It will introduce newcomers to the various components of DECA while helping them develop good relationships with the officers whose DECA careers they hope to emulate.
The B.E. department also has kept busy. This year, it began overseeing Harker’s TEDx series; these talks aim to spread ideas and spark conversation on a variety of topics, such as technology and education.
This year, Harker’s TEDx talks surpassed all previous attendance and performance metrics, with speakers from prestigious companies including David Girouard, founder and CEO of Upstart, a rapidly growing lending company.
Meanwhile, the B.E. department’s Career Connect program worked to “connect students with their futures.” Extending an existing mentorship program, Career Connect pairs eager students with mentors and experts in the fields of medicine, business, law, computer science and engineering. Riya Chandra, grade 9, said, “The panels have been so inspiring to listen to and have even opened up my thoughts for considering other fields that I was not interested in before.” The program plans to continue pairing mentors and mentees in the coming school year.
In addition, B.E. oversees a podcast series, in which host Glenn Reddy, grade 11, interviews local business leaders about their experiences. Most recently, he interviewed Adam Draper, co-founder and CEO of Boost VC.
Sophia Luo, grade 10, who has managed the logistics of the B.E. podcast series as its director of operations, said, “I have been exposed to the life stories and experiences of successful business professionals of the Bay Area.” Luo and fellow students look forward to the continuation of the series.
The B.E. department has made great strides in its first year at Harker. Like runners after a marathon, the DECA chapter and B.E. programs have crossed the finish line and earned their recovery period. But their breather won’t last long as Glass is expecting increased interest from the student body and explosive program growth next year.