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Get real-world experience with the NRF Foundation Student Challenge

Published May 19, 2020

The 2021 NRF Foundation Student Challenge business case competition is now open, providing an opportunity for undergraduates to get professional experience at a time when many summer internships have been canceled due to the pandemic.

One survey shows that 64 percent of student internships have been canceled, with no alternative offer, according to CNBC. While some will happen remotely, those who find themselves without an internship need to find other ways to strengthen their resume.

“Without internships, students have been left wondering how they're going to build skills and apply what they've learned in their classes,” says Annalea Soudry-Maurer, who coordinates scholarships for the NRF Foundation. “The NRF Foundation Student Challenge offers a great solution. Students can spend the next few months working together on a project that could ultimately lead to them presenting to a major retailer.”

The business case competition challenges students to act as entrepreneurs to establish a small business venture and pitch a set of products to Nordstrom, Target, The Home Depot or Qurate Retail Group (QVC, HSN or Zulily).

Students are encouraged to consider the current challenges facing their selected retailer and potential implications in the future.

Undergraduates of all majors at NRF University Member Schools are invited to form teams of two to four to produce a pitch presentation and a 90-second video to convince their selected retailer why and how their businesses can collaborate.

“This is the most real-life experience you can get,” says Georgia Southern University student Cayley Creekmore, who was one of the members of the top team in the 2020 Student Challenge. “You go from nothing to a full product line. You learn every side of the business that you wouldn't normally have learned in the classroom.”

Each university can have up to two teams compete, and teams must coordinate with their faculty advisor to participate. Final submissions are due by Oct. 15, and the NRF Foundation will provide checkpoints, resources and guidance along the way.

Up to 10 teams will move on to the second phase of the competition. Teams will get feedback and revise their pitches, and then three teams will advance to the final phase, where they will present their pitches live to a panel of executive retail judges.

In addition to the recognition as the top team, each member will earn a $6,000 tuition scholarship. The second-place team will receive $3,500 per student, and the third-place team will get $2,500 each.

Review the full requirements for the NRF Foundation Student Challenge here. Students and educators who want to learn more about the requirements and elements of this year's NRF Foundation Student Challenge are invited to join an information session on Thursday, May 28 at 2 p.m. EDT (Zoom info: https://nrf.zoom.us/j/94903146085?pwd=OG1RWmx0VW5UUGRlcDRjWTVPNEVpZz09 password: 547841)

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