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      Young professionals

      The Business Professionals of America held their 38th annual regional leadership conference Friday at Bay De Noc Community College. Over 300 students from high schools from across the Upper Peninsula came together to compete in the BPA conference.

      They participate in business-themed events ranging from global marketing to interview skills.

      The competition is a day-long event. Students bring blankets, snacks and electronics to relax between events.

      The students have been preparing for the competition since September.

      "Lots of preparation,â?? said Cindy Zain, an advisor for BPA. â??Just taking old tests, studying, getting ready, preparing. In the interview skills, we have people from the community come in and do practice interviews."

      The students even learn how to dress for an interview and throughout their business career.

      â??I've picked up a lot of tips,â?? said Olivia Theut, an Escanaba High School senior and BPA participant. â??They tell you how short your skirt can be or how long your skirt can be. They tell you what jackets to wear and what dress pants to wear."

      During regionals, the students are judged on many aspects.

      â??We judge them on everything from their personal appearance, to their professionalism, to their greeting as they walk in the door, to their resume and the answers to the questions that we asked them,â?? said BPA Judge Lanna Scannell.

      The wide range of skills practiced by students participating in BPA helps prepare them for college and a professional business career.

      â??I've been so impressed with the level of the student professionalism and preparedness,â?? Scannell said. â??You can tell they're just so excited to have come this far. And they really present themselves in such a way that honestly, I'd hire any one of them."

      Those who qualified will advance to the State Leadership Conference in March.