After months of preparation, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) members had high hopes of success at their annual leadership conference in April, so the conference’s cancellation came as a great disappointment. Before school shut down in response to COVID-19, club members had opportunities to meet every two to three weeks for study sessions assisted by officers, and studied in their own time as well for different events.
Sophomore Amy Zhou prepared thoroughly for her Introduction to Business Presentation and Impromptu Speaking event, not expecting any cancellations.
“In the beginning, I would be working on FBLA every single weekend to stay on top of my event,” Zhou said. “But now, there’s nothing else left to do. The conferences used to be what I looked forward to and were a beam of light for me. But now, I feel really unmotivated.”
Some FBLA members also missed the opportunity to showcase their work on chapter projects at the state conference. This year’s successful chapter projects included a campaign to bring entrepreneurship knowledge to the local youth community, and partnerships with the nonprofit Bay Area Older Adults to promote senior wellbeing awareness community service and the nonprofit Sunnyvale Community Services to combat homelessness and hunger. The teams were not able to share their projects, but are proud of the impacts they made on the community.
“I’m pretty sure we’re all kind of disappointed, because we worked almost a whole year,” vice-chair of the Community Service Project Katherine Cui said. “At the same time, we did this for the community.”
Club interaction has not been as affected by COVID-19, thanks to many online platforms. Despite the loss of in-person meetings, members have found ways to socialize, such as playing Skribbl in a social over Zoom. Though no specific initiative has been made, currently, club officers continue to connect with members through social media and emails, sending information about online entrepreneurship competitions as well as opportunities to help local businesses. For example, officers are encouraging members to make masks for people running local businesses.
“Many students may not have previously worked with a local business or tried to support local businesses,” said FBLA Vice President of Team/Oral Competitions Nevin Thombre. “I think one potential good is the opportunity for students not just to focus on their personal competitive event but to start branching out into the local community.”
Other club operations are proceeding quite smoothly. Applicants for the officer team were successfully interviewed online rather than in-person. Apparel was done earlier in the year, and FBLA officers are working to deliver cords to recognize their senior members’ dedication to the club.
FBLA members may have lost a chance to formally demonstrate their hard work in a state or national competition this year, but their dedicated participation still marks a successful year and will inevitably continue to carry the club forward in the future.
“Everyone has been working really hard,” Thombre said. “Not just as an officer team but also the club as a whole to prepare for their events, and that work ethic and passion for the club is still there, even though we may not be able to compete.”