TechGirlz Alumna Finals in the International DECA Competition

What’s it like to be told your work is among the best of 18,000 people?

DECA w skirts

Michel Bentley can tell you. The TechGirlz alum and her partner were finalists in the international DECA competition. DECA is a nonprofit that prepares students to become entrepreneurs in business. Participants choose a career direction (Michel chose marketing) and a field (Michel chose fashion).

She and her partner, Sravya Basvapatri, both students at West Chester East High School in West Chester, Penn., linked up with a local clothing boutique, Kiss Keep It Simply Stylish, and worked on a promotion plan to improve the store’s visibility.

“We had to deal with online advertising, different ways to get people to the online web site,” Michel said. “So we went through Facebook and Google AdWords and did different experiments as to how effective they were.”

Then they wrote an 11-page paper about their marketing ideas for the store and prepared a 15-minute presentation. It was a success; they won the statewide competition and were invited to Nashville, Tenn., for the international competition in April.

Michel said of the 18,000 students at the conference, the top 20 people were chosen from each category.

So how did it feel?

“It was definitely a little scary, but my partner and I practiced pretty hard,” Michel said. And, “it was really fun.”

Though they did not win the international competition, both girls said they came away with heightened interests in business and technology.

Even as she prepared for the competition, Michel was taking a programming class at school and had joined the computer science club.

“It’s changed what I want to do in the future,” she said. “Now I see myself starting the college search with a good engineering program.”

She said she has many varied interests, but that she thinks technology can help her tie them all together.

“I love talking to people and meeting new people,” she said. “I want to do international business because I also love languages. If I could get an engineering degree and be paid to travel, that would be really awesome.”

And it all started with TechGirlz. Michel took workshops in middle school as well as high school. It was a great way for her to dabble in the field and see what it was all about.

“There was no way to know if I liked tech without getting involved in it,” she said. “There definitely needs to be more girls in the tech field and just introducing it is such a great idea.”

Written by volunteer Amy Padnani