Monday, October 4, 2010

Birth of a New Blog!

Welcome to my new blog! Over the next two years, I will attempt to distill the wonders, the delights, and occasionally the tribuations of the MBA experience. By reading, I hope you will discover the "je ne sais quoi" of life at Darden.

Today I was inducted as a new member of the Darden Student Bloggers. To be perfectly honest, the first feeling that popped into my head when I learned I had been selected was "Oh cr-p...I DID volunteer for that!" I had completely forgotten that I had nominated myself several weeks ago, back before Darden really heated up. But though my head is still wrapping itself around how I can fit writing a blog into my already-packed schedule, I am happy that I am able to bring the life of a Darden student to all of you. Being selected is an honor.

First of all, this is me. Hello. My name is Jonathan Harris. This is my official Darden photo. If you visit Darden you can find this photo on the Class of 2012 wall in one of the main hallways. I don't think I have worn a suit and tie since this photograph was taken.

I grew up in a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA and I went to undergrad at MIT, where I majored in economics and management. I am the only person in the class of 2012 who attended MIT, and I also think I am the only person in the class who grew up in Wisconsin, so I like to think I bring "diversity" to the Darden classroom. After college I worked in the Washington DC area at a small energy trading firm called DC Energy. It is a great company and you all should check it out if you're interested in power or natural gas markets. After six years at DC Energy I decided to call it quits and head to business school. I wanted to move into a project development role at a renewable energy company, and I strongly felt that I would need an MBA to master the broader business skills which I wasn't exposed to in my previous trading role.

Between my job and Darden, I took a few months off to reset by travelling around-the-world. Literally. Over 63 days I visited 11 countries. I loved the cultural exposure one receives from seeing so many different places, and I now have a much greater appreciation for how big and diverse our world actually is. If you want to know the best way to spend your summer prior to starting to business school, read my travel blog.

On my trip I started blogging for the first time. I had a lot of friends in the US who wanted updates from my audacious trip and a chance to live vicariously through my travels while they sat at work back home. Despite being a "quant", turns out they thought I was pretty good at the blogging. I thought no one would continue to read the thing after awhile, but when I returned home I had several friends tell me how much they loved the blog, and they encouraged me to continue writing so they could live vicariously through me at Darden.

And so the new Darden blog was born. First, the blog needed a clever name. To find inspiration, I went to the man so many at the University of Virginia look to for divine guidance, Thomas Jefferson. Author of the Declaration of Independence and the father of the university, "T.J." hovers as an unparalleled legend in these parts. You see Jefferson's image almost everywhere at Darden, including at the end of Flagler Court, where he stands perpetually staring at his scroll.

You see, Jefferson was a bit of a semantics snob. For one thing, undergraduates at UVA aren't freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, but rather first-years, second-years, third-years, and fourth-years. This reflects the Jeffersonian belief that learning is a never-ending process, rather than one to be completed in four years. At business school we go by the first two distinctions (abbreviated to FYs and SYs), which is fine by me.

More difficult for me was getting accustomed to referring to the campus of the University as "GROUNDS". If you think this sounds like a highfalutin and ridiculous term, you are correct.

Again, there is a history behind the term...Jefferson believed that "campus" connoted a place of plain value, unbecoming a hollowed ground of wisdom and knowledge, the acquisition of which must forever perpetuate beyond your time in Charlottesville! Hence, years of referring to other schools of higher learning as "campuses" needed to be drilled out of me. I still slip on the term every now and then.

The Darden School of Business specializes in general management, and in addition to running a business one could also manage "grounds" (either as a weekend hobby or even a full-time profession), hence the blog name "Grounds Management" was born. I hope you appreciate the amount of thought I put into this.

Well, being two months into my Darden experience already, I have a lot to catch you all up on. Time has flown by here. I hope you all enjoy the journey with me!

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