Eberly senior business students Randall Brininger and Emily Kostelnik participated in Pittsburgh Passport’s annual Case Competition, winning first place in the Back to School category. Randall and Emily partnered with two students
from Carnegie Mellon University and Robert Morris University, pitching an all-virtual platform where students can live the college experience while staying safe in their homes.
The Back to School category was assigned to students to create a pitch that
can be implemented for colleges around the nation. The purpose of this category was to critically think on ways that colleges and universities can give students the college experience while maintaining the social distancing guidelines given during
the coronavirus pandemic.
Randall, Emily, and their partners had a week to create a five-minute video pitch, a 10-slide presentation, and a two-page summary. After completing the first round of the competition successfully, students had to present their pitches live to a panel
of judges—Pittsburgh executives. These judges own and work for companies such as Gateway Financial Group, PwC, BNY Mellon, Pittsburgh Public Schools, and more.
“Not only did I get to work on this case competition with one of my best friends from Eberly, but I also connected with students from CMU and RMU. Communicating with one another and hearing out the different perspectives each of us had was powerful,”
Pittsburgh Passport hosts events each summer connecting students and
interns in Pittsburgh with major employers. Although the pandemic forced events to become virtual this summer, the group adjusted quickly and held cooking tutorials, technology talks, and a virtual capture the flag game via Zoom.
“The experience definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone,” said Brininger. “I’m so glad I did it. We had to critically think about what could be done to improve the current situation with COVID-19. Overall, it was a really great feeling to win, but
the biggest takeaways from this experience were putting yourself out there, making connections, and working with the connections you already have.”
“We will be working with Randall and Emily to learn more about their pitches and recommended strategies related to college experience and social distancing to determine ways to incorporate their findings into practices used in the Eberly College,” said
Cyndy Strittmatter, associate dean. “We are very proud of both of these students and applaud the initiative that they took to participate in this competition and collaborate with students from other universities.”