Darden Faculty

28 Jan

This afternoon I was reminded of one of my favorite things about Darden – the connections we make and access we have to professors. After a busy first week back from winter break, four of my section mates and I had lunch with our GEM (aka economics) professor at a local favorite, Peter Chang’s. This is his first term teaching our section and he wanted to meet with a group of volunteers to get a sense of who we are as a section and to get some feedback on how things have moved along so far — his treat! Now, if you know me well, you’re probably thinking I was just psyched about the opportunity to get two of the things I most enjoy – free stuff and lunch. But, it was great to have the opportunity to get to know him and learn about his professional experiences. He is pretty amazing!

The great thing is that this is a normal part of the Darden experience. As students, we constantly have the chance to engage with our professors. This year, for example, all of my professors have taken time to have lunch with students in my section. This is in addition to the many hours they have spent providing support during office hours. And, at a recent school-wide fundraising auction, the most coveted, highest selling items were dinner events at various professors’ homes with their families. (One of my favorites was an evening of Monopoly with Dean Bruner – what an awesome part of a business education that would’ve been!)  In the coming weeks, I look forward to having lunch with some of Darden’s brightest minds through the “This Professor Is A Big Deal” lunch series sponsored by the Hispanic American Network at Darden (HAND). And, I can’t talk about the strength of faculty-student relationships without recalling my visit to the home of Associate Dean Peter Rodriguez. I had the opportunity to visit his home during our orientation week, when professors and Deans host receptions in their homes to welcome the incoming class to the Darden community. I was able to visit Peter’s home again a couple months later – this time, with my husband – when he hosted a second reception for a number of students. (Incidentally, Peter always takes the time to check in and see how my time here is going.)

As an applicant researching business schools, I quickly learned that Darden’s faculty consistently makes the top of the b-school rankings. As a student I have learned that the faculty’s stellar reputation is warranted not just for what they do in the classroom, but for being an integral part of the community experience.

What’s Next?

25 Jan

Just four months ago I started one of the most challenging and amazing journeys of my life. If you had told me before starting Darden all the life lessons I’d learn and how drastically different I’d come to view the world in just four months, I might not have believed you.

After a very long and amazing break — from which I returned to Charlottesville grateful for 8 hours of sleep a night, home cooking, time spent with my husband & family, tv, and post holiday sales at the mall — I began my second semester Darden. I am at the edge of my seat waiting to see what the next four months have in store. I realize there will be many surprises, but thought I’d share the events/adventures I’m most looking forward to:

1- Day at Darden & Darden Days — These days, my to-do list has packed in an increasing number of action items, as the Student Admissions Committee prepares to welcome newly admitted (Round 1) students to Darden. I am excited for these months of work and planning to come to fruition with the first event, Day at Darden, just around the corner, on February 10th. I look forward to meeting potential members of the Class of 2014. (I can hardly believe it was already a year ago I came to the same event, deposit in hand, having recently received my acceptance letter!)

2 – Recruiting Victories — I returned from my break excited to hear good news from friends and classmates, who have either landed interviews or received summer internship offers at some of the best firms in the country. There’s more great news to come, as people continue the recruiting season. I look forward to many celebrations after all these months of networking, interview prep, and hard work.

3 - Brazil & Israel — As part of the school’s Global Business Exchange program, I will be traveling for 2 weeks to Brazil in March — less than 2 months away! — and another 2 weeks to Israel in May. I can go on and on about how amazing the itinerary is and how great the projects we’ll be working on will be. Mostly, I’m excited about the time spent with friends and the unforgettable experience I’ll be sure to have.

4 – All things Darden — Super corny and all-encompassing, I know… but, I just look forward to all things Darden: another two months with my section; Foxfield; the conclusion of Darden Cup; spending more time with friends; working on cases that frustrate me, only to come to love them; continued access to unlimited quantities of free tea and coffee; exploring Charlottesville’s many amazing restaurants…

5 – Finally, I look forward to thinking about and planning for a semester spent abroad. Currently, I’m flirting with the idea of spending next fall in either Australia, France, Spain or Italy. (I’ll keep you posted).

 

 

 

 

My thoughts about a month in….

10 Dec

Earlier this week, I came across the writing sample I submitted to become a Darden student blogger. It made me smile, so I thought I’d share.

The walk from Ivy Gardens, the apartment complex where I live, is about a five minute walk to school. I realize five minutes may not seem like a lot of time, but that ten minute walk back and forth from school is, arguably, when some of the most important things in my day happen. (As you may have heard, Darden students are kept quite busy – an understatement, frankly – so there is little “free” time to do the things that, before Darden, I took for granted.) So, I use these ten minutes to do the things that keep me grounded. I call my mom and ask her about her day. I send a group text to friends confirming that, yes, I am still alive! I plug in a set of headphones, pump up the volume and listen to the music that reminds me of home. Sometimes, I think of nothing – something you soon learn to appreciate.

Today, on my way to school, I reflected. Likely because this is the last day of term 1 and I happen to be a sentimental gal who always ponders the meaning of beginnings and endings, but whatever the reason, I couldn’t help but reflect on my last month at Darden. I thought about that first DA class, when I was so overwhelmed by the experience of not understanding that I was almost brought to tears. (Okay, fine. Maybe I DID cry, but it was just a little, and nobody saw!) I reflected about Charlie, who sits next to me in DA, and who since then, always peeks at my spreadsheet and looks for signs that I’m following along, offering his support when I’m not.  I thought about the deep relationships I have started to build. Most importantly, I thought about the personal lessons I have learned in the last month – lessons about confronting my fears and challenging myself; about the importance of leaning on the members of my learning team, not just for their quantitative skills, but also for their ability to make me laugh; and lessons about the art of letting things go.

Before I realized it, I had already reached Saunders Hall. My walk was over but before reaching for the door, I gave one last mental look at everything I had just pondered. Nothing like a little reflection to keep you coming back for more.

 

 

 

 

 

The truth about the case method

3 Nov

In my life before Darden, I was a clinical social worker. In the simplest terms, I talked to people about their feelings. Better yet, I helped people to think about, understand, explore and learn about their feelings. Sometimes, a patient would ask me advice or ask for answers about an issue they were grappling with, and I’d reach into my handy dandy talking-to-people-about-their-feelings-toolbox and say “Well, what do you think?”

Fast forward to my 10th week at Darden. Picture this: I am sitting in (fill in the blank — finance, accounting, ops, etc) and my section is discussing a case. Prior to the afternoon before when I first started preparing the case and, later, when I thought about it when my learning team, I had not interacted, thought about–sometimes even heard about–the concepts that are critical to understanding the case at hand. With a whole, let’s say, 12 hours of exposure to this concept under my belt, I ask a question in class, to which my professor responds, “Well, what do you think?”

Sometimes I love it. Often, it drives me crazy. I think to myself, “I wish you would just tell me the answer.”

But that is not the Darden way. While looking at business schools, I had flashbacks of sitting in lecture halls, bored out of my wits, thinking that I’d probably find the material more interesting if only the class were more engaging. So, I chose Darden because of the case method. After all, what could be more engaging than a lively class discussion and the fear/anticipation/excitement of a possible cold call?

This afternoon, I spent several hours trying to figure out how to put together a financial forecast. “This would be so much easier if I had been taught to do this before actually trying to tackle this assignment,” was a thought that ran through my mind. That also is not the Darden way. Around here, we are given a team, given some resources, heck, sometimes we’re even given a hint, but we are expected to go out there and figure things out, struggle through it even, before we are given the final answer. It’s part of the learning experience. Hours of work (and frustration) later, I realize these are the type of challenges that will prepare me to be a better manager, prepare me to deal with ambiguity, enable me to be innovative and enterpreneurial and be an overall better manager.

“Well, what do you think?” It’s an interesting thing to now be on the receiving end of this question. I suppose it would have been easier to just tell my patients exactly what they should do and explain, through complex psychoanalytic reasoning, why they feel the way they do.

But, I knew then, as I know now, that the growth is in the journey and you simply have to “trust the process.”

An inside look at exam week

26 Oct

Hooray! Another term down, another term survived! Yesterday marked the end of the our second exam period as first year students and we begin term 3 on Monday, October 31. “But, Karina,” you’re probably saying to yourself, “that’s 6 days away. What are you guys doing with all this time off?” Ahhh! Great question! Here is an inside look at the various ways we will be spending our “days off”.

1. No. 2 for No. 3 -  Last night, the class of 2013 celebrated another term conquered by going to No. 3, a Charlottesville and Darden student favorite for good music and cheap drinks. Sadly, I was not there for the celebration — more to come in the next paragraph — but I imagine it was a blast! Our last end of term party was also at 3 and was definitely a night to remember.

2. There’s no place like home -  Some folks are spending some time visiting friends & family. In fact, I write this post from the comfort of my parents’ couch. One of the awesome things about Darden is the flexbility we have with exams. We are given a time frame and are allowed to complete our exams whenever and wherever we prefer within this time period. So, on Friday night, with two exams under my belt, I took a six hour drive to NJ, surprised my parents, have had some great visits with friends and family, and finally took my last exam yesterday at home.

3. Briefings, office hours, sponsored tailgates & more – Don’t believe the hype about this being a week off. Most Darden students are spending this week attending on-campus company briefings and networking with recruiters. Others are planning/meeting about job treks — these geographically-focused student led events take place in December and are great opportunities to visit companies and explore career opportunities. Some are traveling for interviews and networking opportunities, career conferences or case competitions… others are attending on-campus tailgates or First Coffee events sponsored by companies. This is a very, very busy week!

4. 100 Case Party — Students who work hard deserve to play hard. (I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but we sure do work hard around here!) This week we are having the annual 100 Case Party, a huge party for first year students to celebrate the completion of 100 cases. (I’m not sure if the plan is to drink 100 cases, but anything is fair game! Stay tuned for pictures and/or funny stories.)

5. Miscellaneous — With what few hours are left after all of this, we are reviewing material from other classes, spending time with friends and significant others, catching up on work that needs to be done within our clubs. For example, as a member of the Student Admissions Committee, I will be spending some time this week visiting potential venues for the admitted student events, Darden Days and Day at Darden, that take place in February and April. I’ll also be spending some team preparing for a fun marketing event next month, called the Brand Challenge.

6 – Finally, and very importantly –  Catching up on sleep. ‘Nuff said!!

Clean teeth, men in heels, and more

18 Oct

After a busy week, I thought I’d take a break to review some of the recent and upcoming excitement that has kept me going–and frankly, surviving– the insanity (and the wonder) that is the life of a first year Darden students. In no particular order, here are the top five moments:

5. Global Business Exchange — Tomorrow marks the beginning of registration for the Global Business Exchange (GBE). GBE is a 2 week course that takes place over Spring Break, when we get to travel to a country and focus on business issues and practices relevant to that country, or a business in that country, etc. This year, students are bidding on Argentina, China, Brazil, India, Israel, Spain, South Africa and Sweden. I am super pumped about the opportunity to travel with friends and broaden my perspective. (The prospect of partying in Brazil sweetens the deal!)

4. Men in heels!  — Today I had the chance to gather with friends before learning team to cheer on 10 of our classmates (2 from each section) as they — did I mention these were male  classmates?! — ran a race in heels — as in women’s heels — in support of Domestic Violence Month! It was a great way to unwind, have a good laugh, and show some section spirit. (In case you were wondering, Section C — that’s my section — won the race!)

3. WACC — Turns out finance is not that wack after all. (Get it? Wack? As in, “not cool”. Think 90′s lingo). In fact, learning about WACC this week (the weighted average cost of capital) was pretty awesome. First, because (as usual) my learning team pulled through in helping me to understand this never-heard-before concept. Second, because I got some major brownie points (from myself) for being able to explain to my classmates what is was.  I’d venture to say WACC is actually pretty cool.

2. Speaking of learning team – Mine is pretty awesome. I mean, really awesome. (I hope you guys are reading this, in fact. Thanks for all you do!!!)

1. Clean teeth and sparkling dishes, anyone?  — Okay, this one is big… and exciting! Last week, I went to the National Black MBA conference in Atlanta with about 30 other Darden students. The conference is a huge annual career fair where hundreds of the best companies come together and MBA’s get their network on in high hopes for an interview. (And, yes, we also happened to enjoy Atlanta night life while we were there.) And, guess what?! I interviewed and was offered an intership with Colgate-Palmolive! Woop Woop! Phew! I am very excited about the opportunity and am also very proud of my friends who all did well, building relationships with companies and interviewing.

Well, that’s all I have for this evening. Back to cases I go!

In the beginning….

25 Sep

Greetings! Welcome to the view from my corner of the MBA-at-Darden-world.

I probably gave far too much thought to what I should name this blog — or, at least my husband would argue that I did (more on him later). It probably still isn’t exactly what I was going for but, overall, I feel satisfied.  “The point of departure” accurately describes the way I feel about being at Darden… it is the beginning of an amazing journey.

It’s been two months since I arrived in Charlottesville, and about 6 weeks since the program at Darden began. Here’s a quick recap of what you’ve missed — fun at the corner, amazing burgers at Boylan Heights, the beginning of many great friendships, a mini-meltdown prompted by a misunderstanding of sorts between me and my new friend, Crystal Ball, a few visits to the vineyards, countless long nights of studying, many moments of reflection, a round of exams, and the best end-of-term party EVER….

I invite you to join me at this point of departure and read on about the exciting, frustrating, embarrassing, fun, and confusing moments that are surely to come. Surely (and perhaps even regrettably) I will be honest and vulnerable and will probably even take a stab at being funny…. Hope you enjoy!

Here we go!!

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