Rasmussen College Students Attend National Collegiate DECA Conference in NYC

Three Rasmussen College students learned how to navigate the streets of New York while attending the DECA Collegiate Leadership Academy Nov. 13-15, 2014.

Lee Hoang from the Rockford campus, Cortney Molle from the Romeoville campus and Kristina Belanger from the Ocala campus were each selected to attend the conference.

Each student gained access to jobs and internships while learning various aspects of how businesses worked, as well as the opportunity to network with industry professionals and DECA sponsors during the event. They also participated in a case study competition.

“These three students could not be more deserving of this incredible experience in the nation’s biggest city,” said Venus Fisher, Rasmussen College School of Business state program coordinator for Illinois and Wisconsin. “We chose students who earned merit through representing leadership, serving as student ambassadors, and being consistently active with our DECA chapters.  [They] are always willing to help others and are passionate about DECA and growing DECA within Rasmussen College.”

Choosing case study tracks

When the students first arrived in New York City, they were excited to see the executives in Collegiate DECA during a welcome ceremony.

The event allowed everyone to be at the same place at the same time, and members were able to put a face and personality with a name.

“We met people who we might never have been able to meet,” Hoang said.

Attendees were divided into case study teams within each industry track, with Hoang and Molle participating in the “Advertising in the Big Apple” track and Belanger focusing on the “International Business and Finance” track. Through company and institution visits, corporate leader discussions and behind-the-scenes tours, the students learned the latest industry trends and applied them to their case study.

“I chose the advertising track because it’s one of the most important aspects that can really grow a business,” Hoang said.  “Also, in part, because it’s the biggest mystery to me.”

He added that it was very insightful to see how decisions were made; how to build a brand; how to market an organization; and how all those things impact all other business objectives.

Belanger, on the other hand, got to experience the real side of Wall Street and see how the country’s largest financial institutions are run.

Visiting companies in NYC

The advertising case study groups visited Brand Union, a company that builds brands for other companies. The company explained how they decided what a company is or should be, and the processes and decisions they have to go through to build that brand.

“There’s so much to think about,” Hoang said. “Even down to what a logo looks like on a water bottle opposed to on a billboard.”

Next, they visited Sirk Productions where DECA members got to learn what companies go through to make commercials.

The last place they visited was sweetriot, an all-natural chocolate company specializing in healthy, wholesome versions of the popular treat. They also learned about the company’s business model, which targets environmentally-friendly people, Hoang said.  

Belanger’s group headed to Bloomberg L.P. to tour the facility. During the tour, the students got a sneak peek into what it would be like to work there, complete with complimentary breakfast bars. While visiting the Financial District the students learned the history of the buildings and landmarks in the area, including the Freedom Tower, 9-11 memorial and the New York Stock Exchange.  

Learning a little about teamwork

At functions like this, teamwork is crucial. As attendees witnessed while touring successful organizations, it takes many people to put together a product, whether they’re building a brand or creating a commercial. To do this, collaboration is completely necessary. 

Molle and Hoang learned firsthand about the struggles of being part of an unmotivated team. 

“Having the right team and team members that are highly motivated and want to put in the same effort are going to outperform those who don’t,” Hoang said. “That’s how it is in the real business world, too.”

Despite being placed on a challenging team, her team won the competition for its track after presenting to industry leaders—including members of the DECA National Advisory Board.

Molle said she surprised herself during her presentation, as she is normally more introverted.  But she found her confidence during her case study presentation and won over the judge.

“DECA has helped me become a more rounded and professional-speaking individual,” Molle said.

The takeaway

For these three Rasmussen College students, their experience in New York City will not be easily forgotten. They learned firsthand what great leaders do to create winning teams, strategies for effective communication and conflict management. They also participated in discussions with industry leaders on preparing for today’s marketplace.

Hoang felt most motivated by limitless opportunities when he left the event. As his plane took off, the New York City skyline struck him. Each of those “magnificent” buildings was filled with several offices and even more opportunity.  

“I wish I had time to visit them all,” Hoang said.  “They each have their own story and unique niche in the world. It really keeps your imagination open to what you can do.”


Have you thought about getting involved with DECA? There are many ways DECA can help collegiate students, such as opening the doors to a successful career.

Jennifer Pfeffer

Jennifer is a Content Marketing Specialist at Collegis Education who researches and writes articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. She is passionate about learning and higher education and enjoys writing engaging content to help current and future students on their path to a rewarding education.

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