To some, it’s just a word. To others, it’s a section of the body tightened by crunches and planks. But if you’re in the Questrom School of Business, “Core” takes on a whole new meaning.
Core, which is more formally known as the Cross Functional Core, is a program each student in Questrom goes through at some point in their undergraduate career. You, along with a group of nine other students, must launch a new product onto the market. You pitch your creation to potential investors (the Questrom faculty).
It’s the pinnacle of Questrom — the big bad wolf you always hear about.
I had the absolute pleasure of doing Core in my sophomore year. While there were many all-nighters and tears over negative NPV spreadsheets, I was able to not only survive, but also emerge successful.
From me to you, here are nine tips for the soon-to-be Core student.
1. Have someone in charge of booking team rooms.
Team rooms can be booked starting at 6:30 a.m. We had an early riser who was up by 5:00 every morning. Since he was already awake by the time 6:30 rolled around, he was the team room booker.
2. Plan team bonding events, and stick to them!
We planned dinners that gave us a chance to look a bit nicer than our usual Core attire (sweaters, jeans, dark bags under our eyes, etc.). My teammate had a cute pad in the Seaport District so we would all head over together to snack, play pool and talk about non-Core things.
3. Meet all the time.
Even if the next deliverable isn’t due for another week and the workload at the current moment is relatively light, meet! Touch base, see how everyone is doing with their respective roles and discuss future plans of action.
4. Use GroupMe.
Having group projects and presentations multiple times every semester means experimenting with different types of group chat apps. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts — don’t even bother. GroupMe is the superior group chat medium. Trust me.
5. Take coffee breaks.
Take breaks as little or as frequently as you like, but take them throughout the meeting. After a few hours of discussing your product prototype in 500 different ways, you are going to feel brain-dead and drained. Head over to Breadwinners to refill your venti iced coffee and grab some trail mix.
6. Have a life outside of Core.
Core is a lot like being in a relationship. It’s a time-consuming, all-encompassing, body-, mind- and soul-tolling affair. It will keep you up at night. It will make you cry. Sometimes, it will make you feel like you’re on the top of the world. Take it all in stride and make sure you’re not forgetting about your roommate and friends outside of the business school. Remember to call mom and dad, too.
7. Sprint to grab the secret meeting spot in Questrom.
On the second floor of Questrom, you may or may not be aware of the student lounge. In that student lounge is another generously-sized room. It’s closed off to the rest of the lounge and you get a decent view of Commonwealth Avenue. As soon as class lets out, sprint for that room. It’s not a room you can book but it makes for a fabulous team room to get through your IMC plans, and you can hash out ideas on the whiteboard.
8. Talk to other Core teams.
My teammates and I would get together with our friends (who happened to be in Core as well), order takeout and talk about what is going on with our teams and products. It will bring perspective and reassurance to the fact that you’re not alone in the struggle.
Be one of those teams that talks about everything! Keep the GroupMe alive with questions, reminders and even the occasional meme. Meet before a presentation to finalize all of the nuances. Meet after the presentation to go over what went well and what to keep in mind for the final business plan. Having a constant flow of communication will not only make the team experience easier, but also bring your team closer together.