In my time at Owen I’ve had the opportunity to compete in 4 case competitions. I would encourage all students to take part in at least one case competition. The depth of learning and the experience gained are completely worth the effort. The competitions I’ve done have all been real estate-related, but I’m sure that my takeaways hold true for just about any competition.
Deep Learning – Most cases in business school, with a few exceptions, are read, analyzed, discussed, and put to bed in just a few hours. It might have taken your group a week to write that paper, but how many hours during that week did you actually spend thinking about that case? Two? Maybe Three?
A few weeks ago I spent just about every waking hour during a 72 hour span dissecting, discussing, and analyzing a real estate development case (and there weren’t very many ‘sleeping hours’ during that time) Nowhere else in business school I have spent as much time on a single project. It forced me to explore concepts and learn new things about real estate development which I wouldn’t have learned anywhere else at Owen.
Integrative Approach – Business school is a broad endeavor, and the judges at case competitions expect you to be competent not just on the subject at hand, but all the other things we’re learning at school. At the recent development competition, my team talked about macroeconomic factors, brand strategy, CSR initiatives, customer analysis and financial returns. The opportunity to integrate various subject areas into one project is great practice for the projects I will be taking on after school.
Bonding with classmates – Case competitions can be grueling, but it is also a blast to be doing it alongside fellow classmates. As a first-year student I was on the team Owen sent to the University of Texas for their real estate finance competition. The team was made up of mostly second-year students who I didn’t know well, but after the competition I had made some great friends. Further, relationships with those second year students eventually helped me network and get interviews during my internship search.
Chance to travel – Most competitions are run by and hosted at a specific business school. In fact, Owen hosts a competition every year: http://humancapitalcasecompetition.com/. I’ve enjoyed the chance to visit other business schools, tour their campus, go to their local bars and interact with their students and faculty.
Professional Networking – Just about every case competition is judged by professionals. What better way to make a great impression on a potential employer than to show them your knowledge and expertise on what you want to do? Plus, at the competitions I’ve attended there have been several receptions and happy hours built into the schedule to facilitate networking between the judges and students.
Business school is all about what you make of it. In my opinion, case competitions are a must if you want to get the most out of your experience. If you are a current or even a prospective student, start scoping out which competitions would interest you. Reach out to club presidents and inquire about joining the team or even forming one for the first time. You’ll be glad you did!