All McIntire students participate in the Integrated Core Experience (ICE) curriculum during the fall semester of their third year. Part of this unique curriculum centers around working in a small team of four to five fellow students to complete a semester-long project proposed by their block’s corporate sponsor.
For me, this meant working with three other amazing students to develop a recommendation for Margaritaville. In order to complete our recommendation, we spent long nights together researching the lodging industry and Margaritaville’s brand, and then culminating our research into a 40-page report.
My favorite part of the ICE project was delivering our presentation to Margaritaville. Each ICE team has the opportunity to present its project to the executives of the corporate sponsor. Margaritaville’s CEO, CMO, and COO all came from Florida to watch our presentations, provide feedback, and ask questions about our work. This was an incredible opportunity to have during my first semester of business school.
The process of putting together our presentation went something like this:
My team spent early mornings and very late nights meticulously creating our slide deck. Even our color scheme and font styles were strategically chosen. We wanted everything to be perfect for the Margaritaville executive team and our professors.
The night before our presentation, we spent hours practicing in a classroom. We organized who would click through the slides, who would stand where, and even what color suits we would wear. My group’s fourth-year mentor came around midnight to listen to our presentation and to help us prepare for the question-and-answer session.
My group was the first to present, so we came into McIntire early in the morning to practice our presentation one last time. As more groups came, everyone gave each other words of encouragement and well wishes. Some of the most encouraging people were the Margaritaville executives themselves.
As my group stood up to present, we were excited to see all our professors and classmates who had now become close friends. Our 10-minute presentation flew by, and afterword, the Margaritaville CEO said my group was “boardroom ready.” My group and I were thrilled that our hard work had shown through our presentation. We sat down and watched our fellow classmates deliver their own impressive ideas. It was exciting to see how each group created unique and insightful recommendations even though everyone had the same assignment.
Working on the ICE project with my team was one of the most rewarding experiences I had during my first semester in McIntire. I was able to apply everything I learned in my classes to a real business situation, work with top executives, and develop a great sense of community with my block and my group. The camaraderie my entire class felt while we were working towards presenting our project made even late nights worthwhile. By the end of the semester, we were all incredibly proud to have completed the project and to be part of Block 5.