The Case for Business Case Competitions.
Most of us know that internship programs, part-time and voluntary work are all great work integrated learning opportunities. Less obvious is entering a business case competition. We asked 4 King’s students to share their experiences, and though they are all business students, any student from any program can benefit from participating in case competitions. Read on to find out why.
What is a business case competition?
Madison: A case competition consists of teams from different universities providing a solution for the client’s problem as described in the case. You work in your team to develop your solution and present it to the judges.
Caleb: It’s like a client approaching different consulting firms for a solution to their problem. In a business case competition, the consultants are university students. Everyone uses their experiences and expertise to develop a solution that they hope the client would like to implement.
York: It’s essentially university students providing consulting for clients. All teams offer their best solutions to help the client work through problems or challenges, and the teams are judged on multiple factors which vary from competition to competition. The judges consist of those from both the client side and the university side to mix academics and practice.
Courtney: All case competitions are unique in their own way; however, the majority of the case competitions are based on solving a business problem for an organization which could be a for profit or not for profit business. Each team is given a case and has a limited amount of time to come up with a solution to the problem. Each team presents their findings to a panel of judges and from there the winning solution is picked.
How did you get involved and what competitions have you participated in?
Madison: I participated in the ANPA (Alberta Not-for-profit Association) case competition in 2021
Caleb: I was approached by other team members to see if I would be interested, and I accepted! I had never competed in a case competition before the one this past month.
York: I’ve participated in the Alberta Deans of Business competition twice, and now the Royal Roads Design Thinking Challenge. I volunteered to participate in my first year, and got accepted onto the team. I’ve been excited about them ever since!
Courtney: I entered my first competition after hearing about them in my intro. business lab. The lab instructor in one of our classes talked about how she had won a competition. I asked more questions and decided to sign up for the same competition later that day!
What is exciting and challenging about business case competitions?
Madison: I find it really exciting when you and your team finally come up with a viable solution… then you can jump in and get excited about your presentation! It is also challenging; the competitions usually take place over a weekend or four days. You have to cram a lot of work into a small time- frame and try to perfect your presentation. It is hard work but so rewarding!
Caleb: The exciting part of the competition for me was working within your team to find a solution. The short time periods of these competitions really put the pressure on but that’s what also makes it exciting. It is a lot of work in a short period, but it is a very rewarding feeling once you are done!
York: The cases are stressful but this is what creates the excitement. It’s very challenging and often there is little direction given, so you must be creative and apply the tools you’ve learned in classes. Getting to know how your team works together is also both exciting and challenging. The end result is really satisfying.
Courtney: Having to come up with a solution to a time crunch is very stressful, yet it is also so exciting at the same time. You become very close with your teammates, and leave the case with many great memories.
What are the benefits of participating in a business case work integrated learning opportunity?
Madison: Identifying a problem, providing and presenting a viable, well-thought-out solution teaches you how to think creatively - an incredible asset to contribute to a workplace. You also need to know how to work well with a team, which you will need to do at nearly any job.
Caleb: It is like doing consulting work for a client. They approach you with a problem, and you must research and formulate a viable solution. It teaches you different methods to form your solution, as well as introduces the time constraints you may have on the job. It also teaches you that your solution needs to be pliable so you can build on feedback (and sometimes criticism) you may receive.
York: The competitions really teach you how to apply what you have learned in class to real business problems. Working with your team and with the client, and having to engage resources you will find in the workplace is all great practice.
Courtney: The cases allow you to grow and develop many skills that can be transferred to any workplace, such as teamwork, working under pressure, problem solving, paying attention to detail, as well as selling ideas to managers. All of these are important in life after school.
Why should students participate? Could students outside of a business program participate?
Madison: If you aren’t a business major, you can still participate. Some schools even have incentives for interdisciplinary teams to join the competition, so you would be an asset to a team. You will learn SO MUCH in such a short time. It increases your confidence with problem-solving and coming up with a good solution is so rewarding.
Caleb: All majors can learn about problem solving, time constraints, and the teamwork that you experience in a case competition. Be ready to work!
York: I recommend anyone participating for the learning. It’s easier for business students to get into a case quickly as their program knowledge is applicable. However, for students in other studies, it’s a great opportunity, especially if the case covers something in their field.
Courtney: I think all students would benefit from case competitions. You learn so much and, in the end, you will always come out of a competition happy that you made it through. Non-business students would enjoy some of the case competitions out there. Also, having different backgrounds and perspectives on the teams gives a unique edge.
Is entering a business case competition good for your resume?
Madison: Yes! Even if you don’t get first place, it shows employers that you are engaged in extracurricular activities and can work with a team.
Caleb: I feel like anything extracurricular looks good on a resume. And this is the perfect extracurricular for business students as it shows a level of interest in business and wanting to do more work outside of the classroom.
York: Certainly. You show that you’re engaged, like doing this type of work, and can work with a team.
Courtney: 100%. It shows you can work in a team as well as come up with a solution to big problems within a specific amount of time.