Being in a case competition
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:
- 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.
- Next, you re-read the case and rapidly highlight and scribble as many useful notes as you can. 2 hours 30 minutes left.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Decipher all the numbers you just figured out. 35 minutes left.
- Quickly reconvene with the other half of your group, make sure everyone is okay, and start making the presentation slides. 15 minutes left.
- Make sure your work was right and fix any mistakes. 5 minutes left.
- Figure out what you are saying and scrape together like 2 pretty pathetic note cards. 0 minutes.
- Practice the start of your presentation under your breath as you are escorted to the presentation. -2 minutes.
- 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
- 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.