The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

FBLA & DECA: Business Clubs at School

The grand doors of the hotel conference rooms sweep open as a student dressed in a business suit steps into a room filled with other students eager to showcase their business aptitude. This is the typical scene at a Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) or Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) conference. Of all the clubs at school, FBLA and DECA are the most similar. They both strive to incite student interest in business and provide tools to help them succeed in the business world. However, what sets them apart from each other is the aspect of business that each focuses on.

“The reason why we chartered DECA was because [FBLA and DECA] cover slightly different areas of business,” ASB clubs commissioner Molly Palu said.

Although both FBLA and DECA are well-known business organizations, their approaches of helping students are different. While FBLA focuses on base knowledge and proficiency in business topics, DECA is more focused on the marketing facet of business. Thus, DECA’s competitions involve presenting as well as test-taking, unlike FBLA competitions which consist mainly of testing until one reaches a very high level of competition.

“FBLA inspired me to make a business club,” DECA Co-president senior Brian Chen said. “FBLA does not really give you the opportunity to talk, but DECA does.”

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Although both clubs incorporate presenting in some way, DECA puts a greater emphasis on presentation skills.

While FBLA has been present at LAHS for five years, DECA is completely new to the school, having started this year. However, DECA has already begun establishing a presence at school.

“I would say that DECA generally has a greater focus on building interchapter relationships,” DECA Co-president junior Lillian Zhou said. “It puts just as much emphasis on competitors helping each other succeed as it does individual competitive excellence.”

Although DECA was only established this school year, the club has participated in the Silicon Valley DECA Leadership and Competitive Excellence Conference (LCEC), the Silicon Valley DECA Career Development Conference (CDC) and States.

However, it has not been smooth sailing for the new club. DECA had problems ranging from minor issues to almost missing its first conference. One of these problems for DECA arose even before the club was created. Originally, DECA had difficulty finding a teacher advisor who would take responsibility for the club. Eventually they found math teacher Steve Walker to fill this position. Another problem involved DECA’s first conference held at the San Francisco Marriott in mid-November. Prior to the conference, problems with coordination and turning in forms on time almost eliminated the club’s chances of being able to participate.

“One of our biggest problems was managing all of the logistics in integrating the LAHS DECA chapter into an international DECA network,” Lillian said. “[Now] we have the experience to move through these processes more efficiently next year.”

Outside of competitions, there are also subtle differences between the clubs. FBLA leans toward community service with Ronald McDonald House volunteering and park-cleaning socials with chapters from other schools. DECA tends to have social events such as DECA Dodgeball.
Being a new business club with a slightly different look at business, DECA has been able to attract many members, even some from FBLA.

“I wasn’t really good at FBLA, but the whole business club genre was still interesting, so I decided to try it out,” DECA member junior Derrick Lu said. “The events in DECA include a roleplay as well as a written test. You don’t have to qualify to speak.”

FBLA events include speaking as well, but only if a student qualifies for a case study at States. Even with the extra focus on speaking that DECA has, FBLA is not without its benefits.

“FBLA has been at Los Altos for a longer period of time,” FBLA Public Relations Officer sophomore Michelle Deng said. “FBLA has been able to develop a very efficient, organized system where members can enjoy the full benefits of being part of a business club.”

Even with these differences, FBLA and DECA have obvious similarities. Both are nationwide business organizations that compete nationally to assess business proficiency.

“I am very enthusiastic in seeing DECA’s rapid development,” FBLA member senior Bonnie Chan said. “I think the clubs could work together well and help each other develop.”

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