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B-School Students Compete for Prizes and Work Experience

Wondering how to build a resume while enrolled in an MBA program? Enter a business school competition.

Global MBA programs sponsor multiple competitions, requiring students to work well in teams and master business school disciplines. Students could earn thousands of dollars in prize money and be able to put an impressive award on their resumes. Even if students go home without a coveted prize, they could at least expand their professional network of contacts--one of whom just might lead to a dream job.

University of Victoria MBA student Matthew Wilson describes the MBA competition scene in Canada's The Globe and Mail.

"There are a plethora of competitions in various fields, from case competitions to finance to marketing and advertising competitions offered within Canada, North America and worldwide," Wilson says. "Many of these are a great test of your skills against competitors from all over. They are also another good résumé builder, as your future employer will see your drive and motivation to go out and get experience on your own time."

The latest MBA competitions may give those ready for a challenge an idea of what's in store for them. At the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business, an MBA competition has already given a prospective business school student the chance to make a good impression.

Prospective MBA dazzles executives

In January, Notre Dame launched the MBA Deep Dive Challenge. More than 400 people registered for the virtual MBA competition, which asked participants to submit a one-page proposal about a corporate social responsibility campaign for Keurig, a business unit of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.

In her "Brew It Forward" proposal, prospective MBA student Kate McDonald proposed to executives that Green Mountain allow consumers to earn money for every purchase. The money would then fund projects nominated by consumers.

"The 'Brew It Forward' idea came out on top because of the potential ease of execution and its connection to the role that choice plays in the Keurig brand experience," Michael Dupee, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Green Mountain, tells Notre Dame news. "The plan also had applicability in any number of geographies and for any number of potential audience members, and easy compatibility with all communication and media channels."

As an award, McDonald should receive a $10,000 Notre Dame MBA tuition fellowship.

Business school students start up

In March, Harvard Business School awarded $50,000 from the so-called Minimum Viable Product Fund to the nine winners of a startup competition, sponsored by the school's Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship. Eighty-eight teams worked on their projects during the winter term and presented their ideas in February.

"The number and quality of the business and product ideas submitted for consideration were outstanding," first-year MBA student Dan Rumennik says in a press release. "Equally impressive has been the intense support we have received from HBS alumni and other individuals in the entrepreneurial and technology communities who have stepped forward to serve as advisors and mentors to the winning teams."

Among the nine winning startups are:

  • AfterSteps: Created by Harvard MBAs Jessica Bloomgarden, Alex Stratoudakis, and Emma Taylor, this online end-of-life platform should enable users to leave behind a plan for designated beneficiaries.
  • Children's Stories for American Muslims: Proposed by Harvard MBA Mohammed Aaser, the business should deliver books, toys, games, and videos to the North American Muslim population.
  • UpStart: Conceived by Harvard MBAs Sarah Dillard, Jevan Soo, and Shiyan Koh, UpStart seeks to do for startups what Teach for America did for teaching. It would enable young professionals to learn entrepreneurial skills and work on startups.

Business school competitions for bankers and dealmakers

At Wake Forest University, part-time MBAs apparently aren't exhausted after meeting family, work and business school obligations. In February, Wake Forest part-time MBAs Colin Clark, Kevin Grace, Chas Mansfield, Ryan Poulsen and Adam Richeson won first place and $5,000 in the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) Cup competition in Raleigh, North Carolina.

University of Maryland MBA Jonathan Steele, a 2008 ACG Cup participant, describes the competition in the organization's website as "a great opportunity" to live the life of an investment banker for a week. "We were conducting company valuations, creating pitch books and selling our ideas to a client," Steele explains. "The experience provided me and the team with a better understanding of the skills and work ethic needed to be a successful investment banker."

In another victorious MBA moment, the University of Maryland announced, also in February, that a group of its MBAs had convinced Lockheed Martin to invest $200,000 in the development of nanotechnology created by university faculty.