One of the key takeaways from all my interactions with MBA students and alumni was to make the most of my time here and to manage my time effectively. Through it all: classes, homework, MBA+ project meetings, informational sessions, coffee chats, networking events and some more networking events, I found myself constantly trying to squeeze in that extra half hour to do something different. Three months into the program, I believe I’ve gotten so much better at it, and I’m sure you will too! So I’m going to pass on what I’ve repeatedly heard on to you – make the most of your time here and manage your time effectively – and while you’re at it, make sure you spare some time for a Case Challenge.
At McCombs, we have five main case challenges during our first semester – the Global Case Challenge, Deloitte Case Challenge, Finance Case Challenge, Operations Case Challenge and the Marketing Case Challenge. They are typically all-night challenges, except for the Finance Case Challenge (so keep your schedules free from ~6pm – 3pm the next day). While the first two challenges are more broad in scope, the latter three are more concentration specific and offer you more insight into typical cases you may encounter in your selected field.
Case challenges are quintessential for those looking to get into consulting. While some may say that they are not interested in pursuing a career in consulting, I strongly believe that everyone in the program, whether they are interested or not, should give it a shot at least once. So far I’ve participated in the Global Business Challenge & the Deloitte Case Challenge, and my experience there has been nothing short of amazing! I’ve not only learned a lot from the topics we were provided and from working in teams under pressure, but also got a chance to network with some of the leading companies that sponsor these events.
Listed below are highlights/tips from my case challenge experiences:
- Find your team – They say you’re only as strong as your weakest link. People with diverse backgrounds typically work well in these settings – each person bringing different strengths to the table. Also make sure they are fun to work with. You’re going to be spending 12 straight hours with them.
- Goodbye Sleep, Hello Caffeine and Candy!
- Reserve a nice spot to crack the case, whether at home, a nice cafe or a study room at Carpenter/Reliant Center, make sure you find a spot that you’re comfortable spending all night at (other than your bed).
- Book a communication coach: Highly recommend booking two hours of communication coaching before presenting the case. These communication coaches are available 24/7 and need to be reserved beforehand. The first hour should be 3-4 hours after you’ve reviewed the material, brainstormed and formulated a preliminary framework for your presentation idea. The second hour should be 2 hours before you decide to present to effectively deliver your speech.
Now that you have all of that set up, here’s my insight on how my case challenge nights have wound up.
6:00 pm – Case debrief. Put on your happy face. Meet and greet the sponsor companies. Chit chat with your teammates and other teams.
Between 8 pm and 7:59 am:
7:59 am – Last minute to submit! All in one night’s work is now officially submitted. But the best part still remains – the Presentation!
9:00 am – Put on happy face again. Present confidently. Support your findings. Definitely watch out for the time limit.
Post Case Challenge: Get some sleep! Tell yourself how amazing the experience was; how much you learned from it;
how you’ll never do it again!
Post post case challenge: Sign up for the next Case Challenge!
This is me with my Finance Case Challenge team. It starts it two weeks! Wish us luck! Till then, stay tuned…