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Learning Personally and Professionally at Case Competitions

Friday, June 9, 2023

When my friend reached out to me at the beginning of my senior year asking about joining her team for a case competition, I thought that this would be a great way for me to get some exposure to the real world. This competition was a face-off between business students at Purdue University and its rival Indiana University. During the 24 hours we were given to come up with solutions to the problem we were presented with, I learned a lot about not only the topic, but also about the people I worked with and myself.

In a case competition, a team of students works together for a very limited amount of time to find the best solutions to a problem, or case, that the judges give them. They present their work to the judges, who then pick the winners. I had participated in a competition like this during my freshman year because of a class I took through the Larsen Leaders Academy at the business school. However, that competition, put on by Eli Lilly, was much more relaxed than the one I participated in during my last year. With the Eli Lilly competition, we were required to be a part of it, but we had a week to figure out solutions to the case they gave to us, as opposed to the one day we had with the most recent one.

We were given the case in the early afternoon on a Friday, and we had about a day to come up with ideas on how to combat this problem. My team, consisting of four people, first decided to think of ideas on our own before coming back together as a group to discuss. During this process, I realized how much goes into a competition like this. We needed viable solutions, but that wasn’t the only part. We also needed to play devil’s advocate and think of any oppositions the judges might throw at us when we presented the next day. Could we defend our solutions until the end? That was a huge part of what we prepared for.

My team and I proudly holding the trophy we received after being announced as the winners of the 2022 case-competition between Purdue and IU business students.

Another big challenge for all of us was simply having to stay up all night and be focused while working on our solutions and presentation. Obviously, we took breaks during this 24-hour period to make sure we could function well throughout the night and during our presentation, but it was still a very taxing experience.

While participating in this event, I was able to take the knowledge that I had and combine it with the knowledge my team members had. We each had unique perspectives, so with our various fields, we gave two great presentations which eventually led to us winning the competition.

I think one of my favorite parts about being a part of this was being able to get to know my team members better. Before the 2022 competition, I only knew the members in passing, either through classes or extracurriculars. However, after spending 24 hours working with each other, we became good friends and stayed in touch throughout the rest of my year at Purdue.

In addition to making friends, I also made a few professional connections with some of the judges who sat through our presentations. After the competition was over, we talked to the judges in a more casual environment where they gave us more feedback. I was glad to have talked to them since one of them used to be involved in the School of Business Council, where I was president at one point during my time at Purdue.

My connections with my team and professionals allowed me to learn more about myself and how to develop my skills. At first, I didn’t think that I was cut out for something like this, but my team helped me. The encouragement they gave me was a huge confidence booster, and I realized the unreached potential I had.

For anyone who is thinking of participating in a case competition, I would definitely recommend it. The biggest piece of advice I have is to just listen to everyone. It’s important to make sure you’re not talking over anyone else in order to get your ideas out. Everyone has something to offer, and listening to all ideas can help you make the best solutions to any problems.

If I could do this competition all over again, I would take more initiative rather than taking a back seat during the thinking process and presentation. I now have the ability to put more of my best work in. I believe I have more to offer, and I hope to reflect on this more in my first professional role after graduating from Purdue.

Jillian Brumm

Jillian Brumm, from Winamac, Indiana, is a 2023 Purdue alumna who graduated with degrees in accounting and finance. During her time at Purdue, she was involved in the Purdue Accounting Association, School of Business Council and Greek InterVarsity. Over the past few years, she has held a job at a Christian dude ranch in Colorado and internships at Standard Industrial Supplies in Winamac, Indiana and PricewaterhouseCoopers in Indianapolis, Indiana. Jillian is currently starting a one-year MBA program at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame.

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