Saturday, October 9, 2010

First Two Months, A Recap

The first two months at Darden have been full of new and exciting adventures.  I'm surrounded daily by smart, fun, talented people.  I'm glad I'm here.  I won't be able to catch you all up on everything that I've seen and experienced, but let me hit the highlights.

Wine tasting at Kluge Family vineyard
I moved to Charlottesville on July 27th after a week at my mom's house following my around-the-world trip.  It was a good decision to move here early because you get the chance to settle in which you don't have time for once school starts.  Additionally, by not getting here early you would be missing all the great pre-Darden parties happening in Charlottesville!  You want to meet as many people as you can in this time because once school starts it gets harder.

Darden at the beginning felt a lot like high school.  The class sizes are roughly the same (Darden is 339 and my high school was 381) and you're living in a semi-permeable Darden "bubble", taking classes and generally socializing with the same group of people.  As friends get made you see cliques form, though people at Darden are pretty open to socializing with anyone.  Gossip spreads quickly.

West Lawn of Monticello
I made sure to make the most of my time before school, going wine tasting at one of Charlottesville's great vineyards, playing beach volleyball and pickup soccer, and visiting Monticello, the residence of Thomas Jefferson.

Darden first year began on August 16th and hit me like a ton of bricks.  For one thing, I wasn't ready to start my day at 8AM.  I realize this is a typical time in much of the corporate world, but I worked for six years at a company where a 9:30 arrival was the norm, and before that I was in college, in which early mornings are rare.  Hence, I had gone ten years without seeing the sun rise on a regular basis, and I started off groggy!  Luckily, Darden has free coffee everywhere, and I got used to the early alarm after a couple weeks.

Darden brought in some good speakers for our first week.  We had the chance to ask the CFO of Target about his new customer rewards strategy and had a case discussion about global employee development at Samsung attended by one of their VPs.  The last day contained a team-building exercise with our new learning teams.

The three cases per day ritual started full throttle on August 23rd.  Term 1 consisted of classes in Decision Analysis (Excel modeling, Monte-Carlo simulation, and basic statistics), Accounting (mostly managerial, with basics of balance sheets and income statements), and Leading Organizations (models of collaborative leadership).  As a numbers guy, the first two classes were much simpler for me the third, but thankfully the Darden class has a very balanced skill set, and my section had many captivating discussions which helped me get a grasp of the leadership models.  In exchange, I could help my colleagues with stats :)

New Darden FYs enjoying C-Ville
Darden is on a new term structure this year, and its schedule is unlike any of the other business schools I considered.  At Darden, you have four weeks of classes (which meet Monday-Thursday), and then you take exams.  Crazy fast!  Exams, which are take home at Darden, began September 17th, which is before some business schools even start classes.  Following the exams is a recruiting-focused week, with lots of briefings from Fortune 500 companies.  The week was a nice break and also a good reminder of every business school student's #1 priority: Get A Job!!

After recruiting week, and of course a few more parties, we catapulted into Term 2 on September 27th.  Hard to believe, but we're already half-way through courses in Marketing, Macroeconomics (referred to at Darden as "GEM"), and Operations.

So far, so good!  I've done well in my classes thus far, was elected review coordinator for my section (helping prep students for exams), have made many new friends, and even formed an informal Mexican eating club (this will be the subject of another blog post).  Speaking of food, I'm off to the Darden International Food Festival, with food and performing arts presented by students from over 30 countries (and I'm not counting Texas).  Makes me hungry just thinking about it!

It's not Darden without some T.J. lovin'


  1. I'm not in B-School so I'm not sure if I'm allowed to comment, but I just wanted to say I'm so glad you're still blogging!

    Also, as someone who has spent the majority of her career sitting at her desk by 8am I simultaneously feel your pain and don't feel bad for you at all ;) Enjoy the "Grounds!"

  2. All are allowed to comment, including current students, prospective students, and others. Just not spammers!