Case Writing Competition helped winner clarify her career goals

Evgeniya Zhdanova is the winner of the Case Writing Competition. Photo by Jouliana Bosneva.

The College of Professional Studies Case Writing Competition teaches graduate students how to conduct case study applied research and consult with practicing organizations. Evgeniya Zhdanova, winner of the competition, discusses her case and why she chose to participate.

Congratulations on winning the competition. Please tell us a little bit about you.

I was born in Moscow, Russia. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the State University of Management in Moscow, and then worked for several construction companies as a business analyst. Two years ago I came to the U.S. to study project management at the College of Professional Studies (CPS), and graduated in April of this year.

1. What drew you the Case Writing Competition?

The Case Writing Competition is an outstanding opportunity to demonstrate how to put into practice what you’ve learned from the courses you’ve taken. This is exactly what employers look for when they hire students and recent graduates; this experience gives you an advantage in the competitive job market.

One reason I joined the competition was that it included a workshop on case writing. Through the workshop, I learned a lot about writing business cases, doing research, conducting interviews with company executives, among others. The skills I developed will definitely help me in my future career.

Additionally, I gained connections in the business and academic world. Students don’t have many opportunities to speak with top executives at companies. Through the Case Writing Competition I was able to meet successful professionals and learn from them.

2. Explain the case you selected and its relevance to your work.

My case is about an online community of computer-aided design (CAD) designers and engineers at GrabCAD, a community-based technology company, whose members share their 3D models in the cloud. The company, which provides its members with a free collaboration environment for sharing their work, is now thinking about increasing profitability. In my case, I analyzed the possible ways to convert free users into paid customers.

I’m currently working as a marketing manager for two companies, Vizup, a computer graphics technology company in Cambridge, MA, and Ezra Home Care, a company providing individualized home care for elderly or ill persons others who need in-home support. The case helped me to better understand the growing industry of internet marketing.

3. What did you learn along the way in selecting, researching, and writing your case? Achievements? Obstacles?

My case topic was quite unusual and not similar to the case examples we talked about during the Case Writing Workshop. That’s why I had doubts about whether this topic would be interesting for reviewers and others. I decided, however, to try regardless of the result. In the end, I enjoyed working on the case because I was very interested in the topic. I learned that it’s a more rewarding strategy to select a topic that interests you.

4. What advice would you give to graduate students considering taking part in this competition next year?

I would like to assure them that participation in the competition is a very rewarding experience, no matter if they win or not. I advise them to select a topic that is related to the industry they want to work in because the experience provides helpful insight.

5. Has your experience with case writing altered your career plans?

My case writing experience helped me to clarify my career goals. I realized that I really like analyzing complicated problems and writing analytical papers. I plan to stay in the internet marketing field because I have a passion for it, and also utilize my project management skills to manage multiple marketing projects.

Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies (CPS) is committed to providing career-focused educational programs that are designed to accommodate the complex lives of motivated learners. Offered in a variety of innovative formats, CPS courses are taught by accomplished scholars and practitioners who have real-world experience. The result is an educational experience founded on proven scholarship, strengthened with practical application, and sustained by academic excellence.

Founded in 1898, Northeastern is a comprehensive, global research university. The university offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and more than 165 graduate programs, ranging from professional master’s degrees to interdisciplinary PhD programs. Northeastern’s research enterprise is aligned with three national imperatives: health, security and sustainability. Northeastern students participate in co-op and other forms of experiential learning in 90 countries on all seven continents.