Business Professionals of America Club Advance to Nationals

Jahnavi Nadig

Independence’s BPA (Business Professionals of America) club competed in this year’s state competition. Seven teams placed first, and multiple members from both team and individual events qualified for nationals, which will take place from April 26 to May 6.

BPA is “one of the largest business clubs in the nation,” said Ashley Liu, senior and president of IHS’s BPA club.

Students participate in business-related areas such as finance, management systems, design, fundamental spreadsheets and more.

“The kids compete in things like interview skills, they do website design, they do small business management; so, it’s all about the things that make a business run. There’s fundamental spreadsheets, there’s banking and finance, many things,” said Mrs. McDowell, the IHS BPA club advisor and BIM teacher at IHS. “So what the kids do is study that [their chosen topic] and then prepare a presentation on it.”

Normally, the presentation is done in front of judges in a room. Students start working on their presentations early in the year, as it is an important event that takes much preparation. Teams or individuals will enter the room and go over their prepared presentation on their topic. But this year, due to COVID-19, presentations have been done virtually via Zoom. 

“They chose their events in September or October, and then started to put their presentations together. Our very first competition is usually at the beginning of January, the regional competition. This year, because of COVID-19, they did it the week before winter break,” said  McDowell.

Participants are judged based on not only content, but confidence and presentation speaking. 

“They score on whether you answered the question or not and how much information you give, and at the end the judges usually have some questions. So it matters if they will be able to clarify some things that weren’t as clear,”  McDowell said. “It’s appearance, presentation, all of it.”

In an event like this, even the smallest details matter. It’s the reason students spend months working.

“The officers usually have workshops where they can come and do their presentation and get tips on what to improve. It goes all the way down to what font you should use, and what color your slides should be, things like that,” said McDowell.

BPA is not exclusively about business, however. It is also about the time you spend there and the skills you learn and develop which will be used even out of school, such as confidence.

“Real life, applicable skills,” said Ashley Liu. “We teach students how to communicate effectively, how to present in front of a scary audience, and they get a picture of what the professional world looks like. Communication skills are important everywhere, and that’s what they walk away with.”

“I’ve been a part of BPA for three years now, and it sort of feels like something I’ve been cultivating for a long time. It’s important because members get to feel a sense of community and family, all while in a friendly competition atmosphere.”

The winners of nationals competition will be announced on May 8.