AT&T mentors DECA club, advises students on managing time, goals

Sophia Fang, Staff Writer

DECA members meet with mentors from AT&T, Nov. 9. The mentors gave business advice to the students. Photo by Cara Tran.

Braden Johnston (10) walked into Room A104 for the weekly DECA club meeting, Nov. 9. Instead of the usual snacks, finance videos, and entrepreneurship lectures, she saw Michael Pham (12) holding up a sign with the words “Thank you AT&T” lettered in cursive.

AT&T employees from around the country logged onto Zoom to host a “Time Management and Goal Setting” seminar for the Wolverines. In addition to Nov. 9’s seminar, AT&T mentors will hold two more seminars about communication and digital awareness for DECA Dec. 7 and Jan. 11.

This seminar series with AT&T is a part of co-Presidents Gary He (12) and Russ Sobti’s (12) efforts to introduce the rest of the club to essential soft skills in business and prepare them to compete.

After a quick icebreaker, DECA members broke into seven groups of five and spread out in the classroom to learn more about their mentor’s experience with time management and goal setting.

Gerardo Favela, a Senior Operations Manager at AT&T, said he was happy to impart his 23 years of experience with his group. 

To tackle the topic of goal setting, Favela asked each DECA member to share their career goals. Favela said that while very few people end up working exactly where they thought they were going to in college, it is still helpful for students to figure out what they like and dislike in order to start setting goals for their future.

Haven Reed (10) said that she was interested in environmental science or a career in the medical field, while Johnston mentioned that he was still searching for what interests him. Favela gave personalized advice in response to their situations; he encouraged Reed to talk with professionals in the field to gauge if the career path suits her and urged Johnston to explore his options to figure out what careers he would be content with.

Next, Favela moved on to time management. Time management, he said, was something he still has trouble with to this day,

 “Sometimes, I have reports that I just don’t do because I don’t want to,” Favela said. “I end up staying up until midnight the night before they’re due to finish them.”

Reed also mentioned that while she does struggle with procrastination, she is actively working to find what works for her.

“I struggle with reminding myself to do things,” Reed said. “However, I’m trying to keep myself accountable by finding different ways to keep myself on track.”

Some methods Reed has found helpful include using her phone to record everything she needs to do for the day.

Johnston also found Favela’s advice on time management insightful, especially his tips for juggling multiple assignments.

“[Favela’s] advice on prioritizing certain assignments based on their due date for time management was really helpful,” Johnston said.

Sobti and He used similar time management and goal setting techniques to help them study for DECA’s Entrepreneurship Team Decision Making competition last spring, where they placed among the top 10 worldwide. They hope that with the help of AT&T seminars, they will be able to lead the club to internationals again. 

“Work hard, play hard,” He said. “This year, we are so blessed to have a talented and high-spirited group. Many clubs take themselves a little too seriously, which is alright, but that’s just not the culture we want to create in DECA. ”

Even though they have their sights set high, the co-presidents hope to create a positive, inviting environment where members can learn about business and make friends along the way. 

“[We] want DECA to be a career-oriented club that prepares members for their professional careers,” He said. “But we also want the DECA experience to be a fun one.”