FBLA Brings Business to High School Students

Over 700 students sat in rows of tables in the Cupertino High School gym on Saturday, March 3. The room was filled with absolute silence as students knit their brows together and furiously scratched marks onto Scantrons.
This was not just any testing event—this was the potential highlight of the year for the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Club. Dressed in suits, ties, blazers, pencil skirts and other formal wear, the club members matched other FBLA members in the Bay Section they were currently competing against.
At the beginning of each school year, members choose topics they are interested in learning about. Some topics, like Business Math, have individual competitions while others, like Management Decision Making, have group competitions. In Bay Sectionals, the first level of competitions, students take tests in their topics of choice.
This year, 26 club members placed in the top 10 of 20 different subjects. Out of those students, 20 have qualified to advance to States because they placed in the top 5 of their competitions.
These 20 members will go to the State Leadership Conference (SLC), which will take place at the Hyatt in Irvine, California. The conference will offer workshops, lectures, dances and other opportunities to network. But most importantly, the state conference provides the opportunity for members to move on to the National Leadership Conference (NLC).
Last year, two teams of three from  the school, the Management Information Systems team and the Entrepreneurship team, placed second at SLC and were able to attend the NLC in Orlando, Florida. The Entrepreneurship team placed first at Nationals, winning $1,500.
“FBLA is bigger than just a club at our school that teaches business,” sophomore Katherine Liu said. Katherine was one of the three members in last year’s Entrepreneurship team. “It’s actually a national organization … [and] we’re all there for one common goal, which is to learn about business and to help out our communities.”
To have so many members place in Bay Sectionals this year against powerhouses such as Homestead High School demonstrated the club’s strength. With members representing the club at the state and national levels, the club gained more prominence.
A relatively young club, FBLA was started in 2008 by Joseph Lih (‘09). The current president, senior Jasmine Xu, participated as one of the founding members.
“We’re trying to make our chapter more well known in the state,” Vice President of Operations junior Emily Cheng said.
However, the club entails more than just competitions. It has also gone on tours to local companies such as Google and Adobe, and even partnered with Tackable, a local company that creates iPhone apps.
FBLA’s partnership with Tackable gives members a chance to implement an actual marketing plan. Students will identify market demands for applications such as Tackable and develop solutions to explore and grasp the niche.
“The idea is that FBLA gives a lot of variety of opportunities for students to get involved,” Director of Projects junior Jerry Liu said. “Our members join because they want to learn leadership and professional skills.”
The club also participated in the Financial Literacy project, a state-level individual project in which students completed four activities, such as creating a budget or setting financial goals.
However, club activities are not solely related to finance and business. In the club’s Go Green project, members cleaned trash off school grounds and planted trees at Redwood Grove. Members also participate in community service such as working at the Ronald McDonald House.
“A lot of business is about making a profit,” Katherine said. “But I think that people forget that another big part of business is to fill a need in our community, and we do a great job of promoting our community and helping the people who live around here.”
However, the dream of making it to Nationals is still important to Katherine and other FBLA members.
“I think that FBLA stands for a lot of things but testing really pulls the entire FBLA community together,” Katherine said. “When you get to Nationals and everybody is competing in the same event as you … you can just see how big FBLA is. All these kids—they’re all champions.”