A case competition is an interesting experience. Usually, you’re stuck in a room for a vast majority of the week (or day) with a small group of ambitious and hyper competitive individuals solving a big hairy business problem.
Regardless of whether or not that may sound appealing to you, case competitions are valuable experiences for various reasons. You should jump at the opportunity to partake in the next case competition at your school.
What Is a Case Competition?
In a typical business case competition, a company or organization presents a “real world” problem with accompanying data and information. Undergraduate or MBA students form groups of three to five to form a strategy and provide a solution for the client over the course of a defined time period. All of this work is presented in a neatly crafted PowerPoint to a group of representatives who act as judges. They pick the best teams who receive bragging rights (AKA resume boosters) or actual prizes.
Case competitions can be built around any industry, including management consulting, investment banking, technology, nonprofits, and more. However, these events take a lot of effort to host. Consequently, ones that garner the most attention and participation are the ones hosted by brand name companies including Deloitte, PwC, and KPMG. Such companies host annual competitions that attract teams from schools all over the country.
Did you know that Management Consulted hosts case competitions as well? Typically, these 1-day case competitions are preceded by 1 day of training. Reach out if you’d like us to come to your campus!
A Standard Case Competition Schedule
Though these events come in all different shapes and sizes, a lot of them are structured in the following format:
- Company announces case competition a few weeks in advance of the launch
- Students form teams and sign up
- Company launches the case competition either online or through an on-campus event
- Teams receive the case
- Students work on the case for 1 week
- Company chooses finalists (usually a few days to 1 week)
- The firm hosts on-campus event or invites students to local office to present
- Company selects winning teams (usually 1st to 3rd place)
Why Participate in a Case Competition?
There are a wide range of benefits you can gain from working on a case competition. See below for some of the most common ones.
Learn About the Industry
The quickest way to learn about an industry is by getting your feet wet and thinking like a consultant on the job. Case competitions often present students problems that companies have actually worked on in the past. For instance, a Deloitte Consulting Undergraduate Case Competition may be based on an actual project the firm had worked on in the past. It’s hard to gain real-world experience in business fields without being employed, so case competitions are a great shortcut to learning.
Develop Professional Skills
You learn a wide variety of professional skills in a case competition. These include:
- Working with a team and overcoming conflicts and challenges
- Leadership skills
- Formulating business strategy
- Financial modeling
- Presentation building
- Public speaking skills
- Industry and company research
Bond With Your Team
Case competitions can be intense experiences. There is a lot of information to gather at the beginning and it takes time to develop a solid strategy. We haven’t even gotten to creating the final deck yet, and then there’s the presentation to come as well!
As a result, you’re likely to see your team for the vast majority of a week, if not every day. You’ll spend late nights together, learn from one another, and if you win, celebrate with each other. A case competition can be a fantastic experience just for this reason alone.
Learn About the Company
While working on the case competition, you are bound to interact with professionals hosting the event. If you are chosen to present, you are also given the opportunity to present in front of senior business leaders and sometimes network with them. All of this is great exposure.
Additionally, working on the case itself provides great insight as to the type of problems the company hosting the case competition works on. If you’re interested in working for the company, a case competition is a great surefire way to learn about it.
Case Competitions Can Be Resume Boosters
To be honest with you, firms don’t care much about your case competition experience. However, beating out other teams and placing in the finals is a great award you can use to augment the Education section of your resume.
Beyond just bragging rights to your friends and on your resume, case competitions often have amazing prices for the top teams. These can include any of the following:
Trips to local and/or headquarter offices Guaranteed interviews for the next recruiting cycle
Case competitions are a great opportunity for all students to simply learn and grow. Definitely expect to put a lot of time into one if you are going to participate, as there will be many other teams vying to win. We actually suggest checking to see which case competitions are held at your school before the start of each school year and clearing out your schedules for them.
We hope this convinced you to participate in the next case competition at your school. Though case competitions require a lot of work, we are sure you will find them worth it!