LIVE STRATEGY CASE COMPETITION
The Live Strategy Case Competition – required for most business majors – is built into the capstone Strategic Management course taken during students’ senior year. Throughout the semester, students work on real business challenges faced by prominent Maryland companies such as McCormick & Co., Under Armour, and JP Morgan Chase. Students are judged by VP level executives like Jimmy Lien of Cintas.
In 2015, Lien was an executive judge for the college’s weekly Associate Challenge, a version of “The Apprentice,” in which student teams compete in local business challenges. He was invited to create two semester long business cases the following year. Cintas provides uniforms and other office services to more than 900,000 businesses, and students were tasked with developing a growth strategy for the direct sales portion of its business.
“I was very impressed. Students did marketing surveys of our customers and used that knowledge along with market research to develop a robust strategy. Some of the students even called my managers to gain additional insights,” Lien tells Poets&Quants. “One of the groups recommended a customer loyalty program and another suggested we target the medical industry. Both were great ideas and we ultimately executed on some of their suggestions.”
In fact, Cintas invited several students from the class for interviews, and hired a few of them to implement some of the ideas, Lien says.
“This is real world stuff. When a student can work on an actual business case, it allows them to have a realistic understanding of what challenges businesses have to overcome in today’s economic climate. I believe this time of learning is much more valuable than just reading about business cases. They have a chance to understand a real problem a company is facing, and offer real solutions for that company to consider.”
PREPARING FOR FUTURE CAREERS
When student Yani Gordon changed her major to Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship, she already had her own nail business, YJ Nailz. She wants to expand the business and open others in the future, and dreams of being her own boss.
“I have already been able to improve my business by applying what I am learning in classes at Towson,” she says. “I’m learning about the finance behind business, how to go about starting one, how to communicate in the business world, how to pitch a business idea, and how to market my business.”
Last year, she got involved in the TU Women in Business Club and networked with business women in the area, some of whom she is still in contact with. She frequented the school’s StarTUp at the Armory, a space for startups, small businesses, and larger corporations to meet up and collaborate. And, she competed in the Big Idea Pitch competition and met with other young entrepreneurs like herself.
Gordon, who will graduate this coming fall, was also able to assess her own emotional intelligence in the required Business Communications course. She identified the areas she wants to improve, particularly valuable for a business owner working directly with clients.
“The professional development lessons I found most helpful was learning career readiness,
such as preparing for an interview, writing cover letters and resumes, and doing mock interviews. There is a lot more preparation that goes into preparing for a job and your future career than I realized,” she says.
“The courses that I am taking directly apply to my plans for the future. Moreover, the events and workshops that I have attended through Towson are helping me build my network and learn how to make connections with others.”
TOWSON CBE: PUNCHING ABOVE ITS WEIGHT
When it comes to punching above its weight, CBE students get an impressive bang for their buck. Towson is ranked as the best value university in Maryland with tuition at just over $10,000 per year. As for its mission for turning students into professionals, 2021 graduates reported 95% positive career outcomes six months after graduation with an average starting salary of $54,077.
Towson University’s student body is also highly diverse, with 54% of students identifying as a racial or ethnic minority. In 2022, INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine lauded TU for closing the graduate gaps between white students and Black and Latinx students. The magazine noted that Black and white students both had a six-year graduation rate of 74% in 2020 while the school’s overall graduation rate was 73%. Black students also surpassed the overall degree completion rate more than eight years in a row.
INSIGHT gave Towson its third straight Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award this summer, one of just 104 honorees across the country to earn the recognition. (You can read TU’s new diversity strategic plan here.)
“I think we punch above our weight in the students we develop. When students take advantage of the opportunities that we present, that we are consistent with every year, the outcome is that employers come to us and say that Towson students are the best hires,” Michocki says.
“They’re hard working. They’re the ones that are willing to step in, help move the table if need be, but then sit at that table with the CEO and have a professional conversation because they have the skill sets and confidence to do it.”
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