My Sophomore year in high school, I was introduced to a program called DECA, an organization which “prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe.” I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to learn about and explore various career opportunities.
I’ve been involved in many DECA events over the last couple of years, including a competition in which my team and I were charged with developing a plan to market a robot. With only five minutes, we had some quick thinking to do!
Now in my Senior year (and because of that robot marketing competition), I learned that I was eligible to attend the annual DECA New York Experience in December, a four-day program in New York City which exposed us to many industries there, including the finance district, marketing and media, and fashion. It was quite an opportunity, as not many local high schools participate in these conferences and this was my high school’s first time. While many of you reading this blog may have visited New York, or know people who work there, as a high school student I arrived with a fresh set of eyes, taking in all that I could.
Our first day in New York, we visited Times Square. I had seen it on TV and in movies, but didn’t realize how large everything would seem in real life. I was in the middle of what seemed like the biggest center of advertising and media on the planet. It was everywhere. It was amazing to see so much of it, so big, all in one place. Times Square is home to the best of the best ads, in large lighted billboards, drawing your attention up and around the space. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. If you want to check out what some of the best marketers in the world are doing, check out Times Square.
Our second day was a busy one, with two stops planned. First, we took a behind the scenes tour of Madison Square Garden. After touring the facility, we heard from their marketing experts, and met with the head of the marketing and advertising department. They all shared stories about how they choose the marketing field and what a typical day was like working in the fast-paced sports and entertainment industry. We also learned about their marketing and advertising programs, and how they make sure they’re hitting the right audiences. Personally, this appeals to me because I am a sports fan, and the activities involved in their advertising efforts are things I do and enjoy…like using social media. It was interesting to learn how they use social media for marketing as opposed to how my friends and I use it.
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After Madison Square Garden we were off to tour NBC Studios. Our tour included major studios that are used for current shows such as Saturday Night Live and Late Night with Jimmy Kimmel. We also saw a newsroom in action, with people working and getting ready for newscasts. We even saw Megyn Kelly leaving the studio for the day! The highlight of our time at NBC was our experience putting on our own news program. They had a mock newsroom set up where we performed a scripted news cast for the Olympics. This allowed us all the opportunity to see how a news program is put together from start to finish, and what happens behind the scenes. There are a lot more lights in the studio than I ever imagined possible, and a lot more people running around than I realized.
We began the day 86 stories up in the Empire State Building looking over the entire city. I could see all the way from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park!
We then visited with a woman who runs a business in the fashion district. She connects “wanna be” designers with fashion companies by providing guided tours through fashion houses and allowing them to experience and see design studio and purchase products at wholesale prices. She also talked about how she started her business, and adjustments she needed to make along the way to make it successful. I thought it was a unique idea for a business and interesting to hear how she learned from previous challenges, make improvements, and improve the quality of connections she could make for her clients.
My last day in the Big Apple, our group was invited to Macy’s for a presentation on how they market their clothing. We met with one of their head stylists, who put on a mini fashion show for us. He discussed how they choose the fashions, pair outfits and the current trends, and how they market those trends to their audience.
That afternoon from a double-decker bus, we toured the financial district. Our tour guide pointed out many historical buildings and their architecture. We saw Wall Street where big business negotiations and economic decisions happen every day.
Overall this trip allowed me to see and experience many facets of business on a very large scale. As a senior preparing to go off to college and decide on a career path to study, I found that this trip opened my eyes to various possibilities in marketing, media, fashion, and sports marketing that I had not previously considered. But I think there’s also a lesson it in for everyone. Maybe you’re looking to make a job change or are facing a big decision about your business. Get out there and explore all the options. There’s probably a lot you hadn’t considered or didn’t know about. It’s important to know what the options are for the future, and be able to make choices with as much information as possible.