Integrative Project

Take a seat in the boardroom — but strap yourself in.

You haven’t survived your first semester until you’ve tackled the integrative project. The weeklong business simulation, affectionately known on campus as “the IP,” draws on all you’ve learned — everything from supply chain concepts to financial reporting — and throws curveball after curveball your way.

Here’s a typical scenario: You and your teammates run a start-up manufacturing company. You need to set up manufacturing plants, determine your product pricing, identify your key markets and grow your revenue in a crowded field. So can you outsmart every other team in the room?

There’s lots of healthy competition (plus a little good-natured trash talk), and the team standings constantly shift as market conditions change. Every decision your team makes has consequences.

If you set up your manufacturing in a low-cost labor region, how will you react when a natural disaster disrupts the transportation system? If your sales price has a slim profit margin, can you stay afloat when competitors slash their prices? If you’ve scheduled an international expansion, can you find a venture capital firm? And if you’re having cash flow problems, can you survive? Hot tip: whatever you do, avoid the loan sharks.

“The IP forces you to learn how to work under pressure, to make quick decisions, and to analyze what’s happening and why,” said MBA Eva Graham. “You don’t always know what the other teams are doing. But if you see them move ahead, you think, ‘Hmmm. Should we change our strategy?’”

Many students say the integrative project is the most fun they have all year, but here’s why it’s important: more than 20 employers are on hand to learn how you adapt to marketplace surprises and hear you present your ideas with confidence.

For many students, the IP is a key step in finding internships or full-time jobs.

“The rep from Bell Helicopter met me at the IP finale, and we stayed in touch. Then when an internship became available, I got it,” said MBA Tyler Lewis. “Finding an internship takes work, but it all comes down to that initial contact.”

IP

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