Hello, it’s me, Chintya. In this post, I will tell about how I spent my time outside college: competitions.
I’ve participated in some science competitions (smth like math, etc.) at high school before so I kinda know what it feels like. Of course, I lost most of the time. But, I keep doing that because it’s fun! I enjoy it more than school :)
My First Competition
My first competition at college was a business plan competition. It was my first year and I didn’t know anything about business. I just participated because I was invited to a team. As expected, my team lost. Okay, I could do better next time :)
1 Year Without Winning
Next semester, I participated again in an innovation competition. Again, it was new for my team. We’re asked to make a 5-slide-pitch deck solution to a case. We didn’t know to make a structured pitch deck and we just made it freely. Again, we lost.
The next competitions were a UX design and business case competition. Oh, one more, competitive programming :). I didn’t really want to do CP but it was like “Let’s try once more.”
For UX design it was a great experience even though I lost because I learned Figma (design and wireframing) and I’m still using it. It helps me to create mockups and other designs like posters, logos, or presentations because I’m quite unfamiliar with Adobe.
And finally business case (biscase). I’ve been wanting to try biscase because I think it’s interesting to figure problems and provide solutions. And of course, it will improve my problem-solving skills. So I participated in 2 biscase competitions while enjoying my holiday at home :). We were asked to prepare a pitch deck with audio and we tried to ask for some slide references to our senior. It helps when we were stuck when we didn’t know what to write. I remember we were also asked to write a paper, but we didn’t really know how to write a paper so we were like… stuck for a while(?) But we managed to finish it close to the deadline XD.
By participating in those competitions, I learned many things while having fun. Yes, I was having fun! I learned about problem-solving, paper writing, slide making, and teamwork. I also learned how to use frameworks and tools for solving the case. It was challenging because our team needed to work together as a team virtually. We lost but we got our feedback to improve ourselves.
Moving on, I got more competition opportunities. It was a 6-week business plan workshop and competition. I wasn’t sure if I should compete because I thought I didn’t have any creative ideas. The workshops were also held at the same time as my classes. But, the workshops were promising and I didn’t want to waste the opportunity. So, I decided to be a participant with my team. We made a business proposal following the guidelines and were invited to join the workshops. We learned how to make a pitch deck: the structure, market, unique value propositions, marketing strategy, financial projection; and how to pitch. We learned to create and validate business plan ideas, go-to-market strategy, and understanding investors’ minds. As a newbie, I got a lot of insights from the workshops and tried to do my best as a team. We presented our idea on the last day of the workshops and we didn’t have any expectations because we thought we messed our QnA session. But, luckily, we were chosen as the top 4 out of 31 teams.
After the competition, I competed in some competitions (business plan) but didn’t win. Then another opportunity came to me near the exam period, a business-IT case competition. We had almost 1 month to do the preliminary stage, but we started our proposal 1 week before the deadline. It was because of our college projects during the exam period. Our student association provided mentorship for this competition, but sadly we didn’t discuss our preliminary paper. So our team wrote the paper, made a solution mockup, revise and revise.
One of our fixed solutions was a redesign (available on my dribble) but we thought that we didn’t have any buzzwords to stand out from the others. 2 hours before the deadline, we decided to add more ideas. We used buzzwords (AI-thingy that we knew but didn’t really understand), did research, and finally decided to write down the ideas. I’m not sure if our decision to revise our paper to be more buzzworthy helped our team to go to the final. But I’m grateful that our team could present our ideas in the final stage.
Going to the final, we were asked to make a pitch deck presentation. We translated our paper solutions to a better visual presentation. We also made the mockup to a clickable prototype video. It was during our semester break so we discussed with our mentor and present our ideas. We got constructive feedback from our mentor and revised our pitch deck. We also wrote our presentation script. (Yeah, it’s good to have a mentor, guys :D)
Finally D-DAY. We presented our ideas to the judges and got some predictable questions. We had listed some potential questions because we were kinda unsure about some parts. Luckily, the judges asked about some of the listed Qs and we’d done our best. Then the 10 teams were invited to a webinar where they would announce the winners. We hoped to be called as one of the winners, and it really happened! We were grateful and excited that we forgot to take a screen capture :))
We had another opportunity, an internal business-IT case training and competition from ASSISTS. I learned a lot from the training: framework and tools that I’ve never used before. Our team finished all the assignments and got feedback for our improvement. The final training day was to solve a business case in 16 hours. The case was released at 4 pm and the deadline was at 8 am on the next day. Our team found difficulties in solving the case because it was a bit clear but we had no unique ideas. We spent hours defining the problem and solutions but still unsure. Then we realized that our solutions didn’t have an IT implementation. We also had a difficult time with financial projection as we didn’t have any financial background. We tried our best to solve the case by giving some unique solutions implemented with IT and a catchy presentation. We submitted our pitch deck after 13 hours, no sleeping. We didn’t have time to prepare our script so we decided to sleep first. We slept for 2 hours and prepared the script for 30 minutes. Luckily we got the 4th presentation queue so we could practice a bit more.
The time has come and we presented our ideas. We used the same template as our last pitch deck with a different color palette but still a good visual (IMO). I was not satisfied with our QnA but it was not bad. We got a good response too and luckily we managed to be the 1st winner :)
After 1 year without winning, I’m still participating in competitions. Why? It’s fun! I learn many things either lose or win. It’s even better if I win (ofc), I can get some benefits: financial, network, career opportunity, and of course experience.
Experiences are expensive, that’s why I’m still participating.
Thank you for reading my experiences in competitions. Feel free to ask me on my Linkedin. Please note that I still believe that I am a newbie :)
Hoping all the best for yall!