March 12 was the first day of the 2020 American Marketing Association (AMA) Intercollegiate Conference. This was also when the news broke of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Louisiana, USA. Everyone in the BCIT team was scrambling to decide whether to stay in New Orleans or head back to Vancouver. Half of us wanted to finish the conference while the rest wanted to fly back home. In the end, despite being pulled out of the conference early, all 24 BCIT students were able to go home safely and still managed to rank in the top 10 AMA Chapters.
This was my second time attending the AMA Intercollegiate Conference, and I was excited to showcase the accomplishments of our chapter. Every year, the BCIT Marketing Association competes against 300 AMA Collegiate Chapters across North America. It is a good opportunity to network and further develop our skills as marketers. All 24 BCIT students were ready to take part in various seminars and competitions. We were representing BCIT in one of the biggest AMA conferences.
On the first day of the conference, there was news of a confirmed COVID-19 case in the city. Fearful of the situation, we were overwhelmed and confused about what our next steps should be. Other universities canceled their trips and withdrew their entries. Our club advisors, Tracey Renzullo and Geoffrey Bird, gathered the team and provided guidance and necessary updates. They assured us that the BCIT School of Business and Media would support our decisions and provide the necessary resources we needed.
As a result, we decided to push through with the conference despite the threat of COVID-19. While everyone was practicing social distancing, we were still fearful of the risk of being exposed to the virus. Nevertheless, we wanted to honour the hard work and effort put in by our members, directors, and executive team leading up to this conference. Here is a BCITMA video that I directed and edited with the conference theme “Greater Together”:
In the end, we ranked Top 10 AMA Chapters thanks to Raelyn Pearson and Kimya Ebrahimi, and those who won the following special awards:
- First Place Overall Exhibit with the theme “We the North, We the AMA” by Noah Styka and Emily Cowling; presented by Raelyn Pearson and Katie Thompson
- Second Place SABRE Marketing and Strategy Simulation with Dillon McGee, Ella Lindau, Hunter Sones, Brian Chang, and Brendan Foyle-Ostorga
- Fourth Place AMA USCA Sales Student of the Year awarded to Tarin Perry
- Sixth Place Outbound Sales Competition awarded to Hunter Van Dyke
Gershon Silva presented the poster competition at the conference. We were determined to finish strong during the last two days of the conference and pitch our idea for the case competition led by Anna Shkuratoff and Tarin Perry to Cotton Inc. However, due to the increasing threat of the virus and international travel bans, it was time for us to head home. Having to present the case competition online by Jasmine Dhaliwal, Tarin Perry, Jong Lee, Thyme Stidworthy, Anna Shkuratoff, BCITMA was awarded second place against 69 schools across North America. BCIT was extremely supportive and encouraged all students and staff to fly back to Canada for our safety. In no time, we were back in Vancouver. Even though we had to self-quarantine for 14 days, it was such a relief to be back home.
Through this experience, I realized the importance of teamwork, leadership, resilience, and versatility during very difficult times. These are some of the values that BCIT upholds. With the help and support of our school, we achieved our goal of showcasing the level of competency, professionalism, and perseverance that BCIT students gain through our education and training.
Even though we didn’t get to see the finish line, I am very proud of the BCITMA team for trying to stick it out as long as we possibly could. Despite the current social distancing precautions, this unique event brought us even closer together. As a community, I am very certain with our combined efforts that we can overcome the obstacles that our industry and economy are currently phasing. I’m now ready to face other challenges in this complex world.
(Caption for top photo: BCIT Marketing Association Chapter exhibit themed, “We the North, We the AMA”.)