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Pizza, Rap & My First Case Competition

It was 9:00pm and I had just devoured two (ok fine…three) slices of pizza while the 90’s party mix Pandora station played in the background. The room erupted in laughter as the chorus of Will Smith’s “Miami” was flawlessly rapped by a very talented individual, who shall remain nameless. Sure, that sounds like your typical Thursday night, but there was one slight difference. Instead of sitting in my apartment downtown or with friends in East Rock, we were staked out in A51 for the annual Yale SOM Case Competition.

This year’s SOM Case Competition took place on November 7th and challenged participants to analyze social innovation at Salesforce Foundation. The competition was co-hosted by the Net Impact, Consulting and Human Capital clubs and was sponsored by Deloitte. It was an informal, low risk, pure upside way to spend four hours on a Thursday evening. Second years flagged it as a not-to-miss event.

So, in the spirit of SOM love and perpetual overcommitting, I signed up with three fellow classmates. This was my first real case competition, and my only other experience was Case for Community during orientation. We were two non-consultants, a heavy-hitting accounting genius, and one previously described rapper extraordinaire. We were clearly destined for greatness. Unfortunately, E Love and the Special Sauce didn’t make the cut…

On the other hand, 12 of my incredibly intelligent and dynamic classmates did make the final round. They submitted their cases at 11:00pm Thursday, enjoyed beverages at the GPSCY after party where their victory was announced at 1:00am Friday morning. Then, they worked all night before presenting their final proposals a mere 10 hours later in front of a panel of professional judges. A huge bravo to each and every one of them! They are rockstars.

What I think is truly incredible, and closely echoes the broader SOM culture, is the collaborative and encouraging spirit that underpinned the entire event. Personally, I know nothing about consulting. I know foreign exchange rates, aluminum lot conversions and palladium demand trends. My classmates however, are consulting pros. They spend weekends in the dungeon “casing” while I still struggle to define exactly what that activity entails. None of that matters. They took my background in S&T, broke out the training wheels and fostered my participation in this entirely new realm.  They made the event accessible, fun and extremely memorable.

My favorite thing about business school is not the Chia pet competitions or the theme parties (although obviously I’m counting the days until next year’s Tight’N’Bright). The best part about business school is learning from my classmates and being constantly surprised by their willingness to share each and every last tool in their toolbox.