On week­ends, stu­dent Spencer Murray wakes up at 6:30 a.m., buys coffee and hun­kers down in Dodge Hall, where he spends hours ana­lyzing and pitching mock mar­keting plans to alumni and pro­fes­sors who judge his performance.

I’m learning about dif­ferent aspects of busi­ness that you can’t learn by reading a text­book,” said Murray, a junior finance and accounting major. “There’s nothing in class that chal­lenges me in this way.”

The weekend work-​​a-​​thons serve as prac­tice for busi­ness case com­pe­ti­tions. Murray is part of a 12-​​member under­grad­uate stu­dent orga­ni­za­tion — Hunt­ington Man­age­ment Con­sulting — that gives stu­dents expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­ni­ties in man­age­ment con­sulting and strategy through inter­col­le­giate com­pe­ti­tion and vol­un­teer work for local firms and non­profit organizations.

The work by Murray and his col­leagues paid off on April 16, when the team took first place in the annual North­east Dis­trict Stu­dent APICS Case Com­pe­ti­tion at Quin­nipiac Uni­ver­sity. The stu­dents — Thomas Ack­erman, Ste­fanie Barron, Daniel Wittstein and Murray — bested under­grad­uate teams from seven other insti­tu­tions, including Rut­gers Uni­ver­sity and Bryant Uni­ver­sity, in devel­oping a supply chain man­age­ment strategy for a large agri­cul­tural prod­ucts manufacturer.

These stu­dents are elite aca­d­emic ath­letes,” said asso­ciate pro­fessor of inter­na­tional busi­ness and strategy Ray­mond Kin­nunen, the club advisor, who has guided stu­dents to 15 first-​​place vic­to­ries over the last 14 years. “Their drive, com­mit­ment and deter­mi­na­tion are all words you would use to describe an ath­lete on a foot­ball field or a bas­ket­ball court.”

The stu­dents — whose suc­cess led com­peti­tors at other uni­ver­si­ties to call the North­eastern club the “dream team” — have a strong record in com­pe­ti­tions held all over the world. They snagged first place at The Mar­keting Summit held at Wake Forest Uni­ver­sity in Feb­ruary, for example, and won the Stock­holm School of Eco­nomics Inter­na­tional Case Com­pe­ti­tion in 2009.

We’re get­ting our foot in the door because of this expe­ri­ence and making a name for Northeastern’s busi­ness school,” said club pres­i­dent Rani Pimentel, a senior entre­pre­neur­ship and mar­keting major.

Net­working and receiving advice from alumni — many of whom work for large cor­po­ra­tions such as Microsoft and Target — during weekend prac­tice ses­sions is an invalu­able perk of joining the con­sulting club, she said.

We’re get­ting face-​​time and direct feed­back,” Pimentel said. “It’s impor­tant to be part of that network.”