Our Software Engineer Intern, Carter Costic, recently competed in the Future Business Leaders of America’s (FBLA) Database Design and Applications competition this year. We spoke with Carter about his experience winning the award – here’s his story:

“I competed in the Future Business Leaders of America’s (FBLA) Database Design and Applications competition this year; it was particularly exciting for me as it varied sharply with events I’ve previously participated in. My first opportunity to join a FBLA competition presented itself my sophomore year of high school in 2019-2020 with the Introduction to Information Technology event. This was my first “Objective Test” – a series of 100 multiple choice questions within one hour. FBLA competitions have rounds in which you compete regionally, statewide, and finally nationally, completing the assessment each time. I was fortunate enough to place first nationally in the Introduction to Information Technology event, though the actual conference was held online due to the pandemic. The next year, my junior year, I competed in the Cybersecurity competition (which ended up being my favorite). Again, I managed to place first nationally after completing each round of multiple choice assessments.

This year, I elected to participate in the Database Design and Applications event which is comprised of a multiple choice assessment first and a practical assessment. Perhaps my favorite part of this event is how it threw something new at me: a practical; I was very excited for the practical, especially with my existing love of database design. I typically adopt a policy of what I’ll call “non-targeted preparation” for a variety of competitions and just life itself. What I mean by this is that I don’t particularly study for one thing, in this case I didn’t study for FBLA’s Database Design and Applications test. Rather, I simply put a lot of effort into furthering my skillset as a whole. On my own time I study quite a bit via practical implementation. For instance, I may use technology to not just design a database but also connect it to a larger tech stack. This allows me to focus on exploring my passions at this stage and keep things fresh and exciting. This policy initially backfired as the multiple choice assessment focused solely on Microsoft Access, but after managing to place second regionally, I buckled down and started studying for the practical. The practical assessment instructed participants to create their own Microsoft Access database, perform queries using both the GUI and SQL statements, and visualize the data—all within an hour!

On Friday, March 11th, I was lucky enough to travel to Atlantic City for the NJ FBLA conference. This was actually my first time attending one of these events in person and it ended up being fantastic. During the awards ceremony, I barely even noticed that my event was projected onto the stage. They summoned the top 10 participants to the stage, myself included. Being on the stage itself felt amazing in front of hundreds of excited FBLA members just like me. They announced the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st place winners for the event of which I placed first! I then left the stage and had a quick photo op with my school.

Winning first in the state for my competition means I’m allowed to compete nationally once again where I’ll be facing off against ~200 other students from across the country. The national conference is in late June this year. Regardless of how I place, I’m very grateful and happy for the experiences and recognition FBLA has provided me.”