The Madden Challenge takes place on Wednesday, Nov. 16, from 6-8:30 p.m. in the Community Commons. RSVP and learn more about the student teams and their innovations.

A student pitches their idea to a judge at the Madden Challenge

A student pitches their idea to a judge at the Madden Challenge. (Photo by Cullen McHale)

Whether the question will be coming from your direct family, or you’ll be answering it ad nauseam for your more distant (but well-meaning) relatives, chances are you’re going to be asked, “What classes are you taking first?” in the time leading up to your first quarter. If you’re still stumped on what one of those classes should be, my advice to you will not be that you start off safe, simple or with your head down to avoid attention when it comes to course selection.

Instead, you should charge headlong into Business 1440—into the Madden Challenge. It’s part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution course.

In the Madden Challenge, you’ll be tasked with coming up with your own product pitch, or with helping someone else bring theirs to life over the span of several labor and collaboration-intensive weeks. You present your idea to judges at a quarter-ending event. If you’re a first-year student who doesn’t know anyone at Daniels yet, this might sound like a waking nightmare. It did to me in my first quarter, until I pitched my own idea and gathered my own team. Nearly two years later, I’m still convinced it was the best decision I could have made as a freshman. Here’s why:

1.) Starting a group project is a guaranteed way to meet people

Maybe you’ll stick with those people for the rest of your DU experience, or maybe you’ll move on after your quarter is up, but it’ll anchor you to a few people you’ll likely be seeing more than just once or twice a week.

Two students present at the Madden Challenge

Two students pitch their idea to the audience at the 2022 Madden Challenge. (Photo by Cullen McHale)

2.) You’ll be forced to learn how to present in front of a room full of people

For better or worse, depending on how comfortable you are with public speaking, presenting in front of others is unavoidable in Daniels. Doing so with a group helps soften the public speaking blow, but you’ll still be getting the experience you need to hone your skills later.

3.) Collaboration and leadership skills are put to the test

You’ll have to learn how to work effectively with others. Maturely working out disputes in a team is a critical skill in just about any business environment—if not in every environment—and it’s well worth learning early.

4.) You can form lasting bonds with your professor

I still talk to my BUS1440 professor in the hall from time to time, even as a junior. Having a professor who respects you as a student is an immensely satisfying feeling and can give you your first real ally in your Daniels journey. Professors here often have a wealth of advice that goes beyond the classroom, which is something that any freshman could always use more of.

A student team gives a thumbs up pose in front of their poster at the Madden Challenge

Students pose by their poster at the 2022 Madden Challenge. (Photo by Cullen McHale)

5.) The Madden Challenge can offer you your first taste of the business world beyond Daniels

I still clearly remember how it felt to be presenting my product to every judge who walked by our table. It was intense, but to know that potential investors were taking us seriously despite our college student status was exhilarating. That feeling was what made me sure I was on the right path here at Daniels.

Business is all about standing out and proving that you have what it takes, just as Daniels is all about showing you how to do so. If you want a first impression of what that really feels like, then BUS1440 is one of the best classes you can take freshman year.

Georgia Harris is a senior at the Daniels College of Business, pursuing a degree in business analytics. She was part of the BUS3000 course, where students are assigned to write a blog. Harris’s article was selected as one of the best in the undergraduate class.