Being in a case competition

Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

I’m a business student and recently participated in my first case competition. I was nervous, but all my peers had to do it as well, and there was nothing to lose if I did badly.

Going in, I thought there would be plenty of discussions and arguing about different ideas. It was like airport security — no phones or notes were allowed.

What I thought was going to be like half of the 3-hour session became squeezed into 5 minutes. I’ll describe you the process:

  1. First, you read the 10+ page case trying to wrap your head around the topic and what they are asking. The room is silent. 2 hours 45 min left.
  2. Next, you re-read the case and rapidly highlight and scribble as many useful notes as you can. 2 hours 30 minutes left.
  3. The group reconvenes, plans out your presentation, discusses the key problems, quickly figures an approach to the problem, and divides the work. This was done with like 2 hours 15 minutes left.
  4. You work on your section – mine was accounting and finance – and just try to gather all the information and start processing what to do with it. 1 hour 30 minutes left.
  5. You realize the time is half-gone and you haven’t done anything yet. Start rapidly trying to figure out all the numbers. 45 minutes left.
  6. Decipher all the numbers you just figured out. 35 minutes left.
  7. Quickly reconvene with the other half of your group, make sure everyone is okay, and start making the presentation slides. 15 minutes left.
  8. Make sure your work was right and fix any mistakes. 5 minutes left.
  9. Figure out what you are saying and scrape together like 2 pretty pathetic note cards. 0 minutes.
  10. Practice the start of your presentation under your breath as you are escorted to the presentation. -2 minutes.
  11. Present: Go with the flow and try to articulate the confusing mass of information you were working on in a simple way for the judges. Improvise and step in when your teammates need help and let them step in and help you. – 20 minutes
  12. You can now breathe.

This situation was stressful and busy, but awesome. I really learned to trust my team; I learned what the other half of my team had been working on – during our presentation!!

Similarly, I learned that you have to treat the time with the same intensity at the start as you do at the end. If we had taken more time to figure out a plan or course of action, it would have been exponentially harder to finish the case.

Lastly, I was forced to apply all of the knowledge I had gained from class without any resources, so it really showed what I knew .. and what I didn’t. Thankfully it was enough to get through the case. My team did end up progressing to the semi-finals and will get to repeat this process soon.

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