April 22nd, 2007 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Part-time students normally don’t participate in any of the annual MBA competitions that take place around the country. A big reason for this is that we are a lot busier than the full-time students. We work full time jobs in addition to taking classes in the evenings. Many part-time students have young children at home. Our schedules are full to the point of breaking.

With all that in mind, I still recommend that part-time MBA students sign up for a competition in their field of interest. There is no better way to test yourself in a real world setting than by going out and competing with your peers from around the world. There are competitions for every interest – entrepreneurship (social, sustainable, international, and so on), supply chain management, investing, consulting, and venture capital. If you are on the fence about a career change, these events are a great way to get your feet wet. As almost anyone who has participated will attest, the part-time MBA case competition is not a good substitute. It is not focused enough, and you’re lucky if the case analysis is in your field of interest. We were tasked with analyzing the CRM needs of Carnival Cruise Lines. How is that applicable to anything I would want to do in the real world? I don’t know if the changes that were made for this year’s competition were improvements, but I suspect that the broad focus of the subject matter still prevented the material from being relevant to many of the students who participated. That’s why I think that more part-time students should sign up for the major business school competitions. The material is relevant and give students a much better opportunity to apply what they have learned in the MBA program.

Without hesitation, I can say that participation in the VCIC was the best experience of the MBA program. Before participating, I thought I wanted to pursue a career in venture capital, but felt like I should get some more exposure to the field before I made the leap. Now I’m sure that my future lies with venture capital. Over the course of the three rounds of the competition, we got to analyze twelve different business plans, perform due diligence interviews with all of the entrepreneurs, make our investment decisions, and present them to judging panels made up of angel investors, venture capitalists, and other representatives from the private equity world. To be successful, our team had to draw on all knowledge we gained throughout the MBA program.

Even though we didn’t place in the International Finals, the experience was incredible. We had a chance to meet major players from all across the VC world. All of the teams were incredibly supportive of each other and we particularly had a good time interacting with the teams from Virginia, USC, and MIT. MIT had the added privilege of picking up the tab at Top of the Hill, where everyone went to celebrate with fresh brewed beer and various other mighty alcoholic concoctions.

For any teams who are considering competing next year, I strongly recommend the following electives:
BUMK740 – Marketing High Tech Products
BUMO730 – New Venture Creation
BUMO756 – Industry and Competitor Analysis
BUSI771 – New Venture Financing
BUFN758V – Venture Capital and Private Equity

You will also need to pull knowledge from a number of your core classes including Human Capital Management, Financial Accounting, Marketing, and Strategy.

As a final piece of advice, there’s no better way to prepare for a competition than by practicing in other competitions. Although the part-time MBA case competition had nothing to do with venture capital, our team’s success there gave us an edge in the VCIC. We knew how to work together and we knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

If you’re thinking about competing in the VCIC next year, please keep me and the rest of the team in mind. We’re eager to act as coaches in order to help the University of Maryland not only return to the finals, but win the big prize.