The Case Method, Recruiting and Internships: Trust the Process. Now What’s the ‘Process?’

For Darden students, recruiting starts almost immediately after classes begin in the fall. In the following post, student blogger Bradley Brewer describes his summer with The Boston Consulting Group and how Darden’s case method prepared him to step forward in his internship:

“Recruiting is buzzing on Grounds at Darden. First Year (FY) recruiting is several weeks away but it’s all systems go for us Second Years (SYs) — updating resumes, tweaking pitches, visiting company office hours, and working on case prep (not to mention classes).  Overwhelming? Sure, but I found that Darden provides the necessary tools to navigate this process and succeed in finding the right fit for our career post-graduation.

This summer I had the awesome opportunity to work with The Boston Consulting Group.  I was staffed on a project team tasked with developing and implementing a strategy to consolidate two large retailers’ ecommerce sites.  Our BCG team was fantastic; many offices, personalities, backgrounds, and experience levels were represented and melded nicely.   The work was definitely challenging.  Admittedly, it took me several weeks to jog up the learning curve.  Probably looked like a deer in the headlights for the first few weeks (headlights of a 747).  But soon it all started making sense. 

Study the problem, develop insights/hypothesis, socialize these thoughts with a small group, refine & set out to prove insight, re-share — and so on and so forth.

Through this cycle and the support of many colleagues, it all started to gel and I was able to provide some in-depth thinking and analysis that helped the client move forward.  It felt great to be a part of team that worked hard, played hard, and truly wanted each member to enjoy success.  I can’t wait to go back next fall.

I say all that to draw the parallel between the FY at Darden and the internship experience.  For the majority of the SY students I’ve talked to since returning to Darden, they share similar parallels. We worked on ambiguous problems in various industries and were accountable for solutions. To me, this mirrored the FY at Darden. We heard a million times from Dean Bruner and the Darden faculty last fall that we should ‘trust the process’ and it will all work out. I think I get it now. 

A pivotal piece in that ‘process’ is the Darden case method, which is designed to deliver practical learning experiences that develop understandings, communication skills and confidence.  After reading a sometimes ambiguous case, we’re asked to self-reflect and bring an initial set of opinions/hypothesis to our learning teams (LT).  During LT, we discuss these ideas and develop new insights and/or find new reasoning to support our original ideas.  The in class dynamic builds upon the LT discussion, discussing the case with representatives from other LTs (which is a combination of the thoughts and efforts of the entire FY class) and the professor (the background player).  By the end of class, we’re ultimately led to new understandings that we would not have fully developed on our own.  The post-class personal reflection piece is our own one-on-one ‘feedback session.’  I.E. What were the key learnings?  How can I use these specific learnings on future cases? How can I do this better?

Here’s a diagram that I think sums it all up (what’s a Darden write-up or a consulting piece without a diagram anyhow, right?):


My internship experience followed the same trajectory.  The beauty of the case method is this: without consciously knowing how similar the class process can be to an actual work environment, by simply participating in the process with an open mind we pick up new frameworks and structures, new ideas and perspectives, confidence and resilience, and a repertoire of tools that will allow us to succeed in interviews and in the internship.

I chose Darden for the case method and I’m happy with the progress. Note: I say this as a case amateur and someone who never blows away the class with participation day in and day out.  Ask anyone who has class with me and they’ll agree.  It’s still tough for me. It’s a work in progress. But that’s exactly why it’s perfect for me. Whether the case method pushes me or the professor drags it out me, I’m a better business dude in the end for participating in the case process. Especially after spending the last four years of my professional career outside the business arena, I needed plenty of practice and plenty of opportunities to grow.  Darden delivers on that end.

To all the prospective students out there getting applications ready and the FYs currently getting into gear, my advice is to put in the time to embrace the case method. Do the work with a happy heart.  It will pay off.  You’ll learn something. You’ll better yourself.  And you’ll better position yourself so others can easily see and appreciate your growth.”

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Additional Registration Available at October Fall Open Houses

Darden will host three more open house events in October. Please join us in Charlottesville for a full day of programming including a class visit, lunch with students, a career development presentation, and an admissions and financial aid panel. Each open house will conclude with a discussion with one of Darden’s top-ranked faculty speaking on topics that are special to them and important to Darden.

We welcome you to join us and experience the world’s best education, top-ranked faculty and dynamic Darden network in person.

If you cannot join us for an open house, we also offer class visits throughout the academic year.

October Open Houses

Monday, 6 October 2014
Faculty Discussion: Women in Business

Monday, 13 October 2014
Faculty Discussion: The Military and the MBA

Friday, 17 October 2014
Faculty Discussion: The Importance of Diversity at Darden

We look forward to seeing you on the Darden Grounds soon!

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Upcoming Webinars With Career Development Staff and Darden Students

The best way to learn about an MBA program is by visiting the school and talking to students, faculty and staff. However, we understand that you may not be able to visit Darden before submitting your application, so we would like to give you the opportunity to personally connect with our career development staff and students through the following online events:

Webinar: Career Development at Darden

Wednesday, 24 September 2014
12:30 – 1:15 p.m. Eastern Time

Darden’s Career Development Center provides you with several resources to prepare you for a career in any industry. Learn about our unique integrated career curriculum, one-on-one professional career advising, Second Year student coaches, on- and off-Grounds recruiting, job treks, career clubs, workshops and conferences, and more. There will be a 15-minute presentation, followed by a 30-minute Q&A session.

Webinar: Current Students From India Discuss the Application Process

Monday, 29 September 2014
9:15 – 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time

Join us for an interactive conversation with Second Year Darden students from India on the application process, life at Darden, the case method, faculty and recruiting. This is a great opportunity to gain insight on life at Darden and to ask some questions before submitting your application for Round 1. We look forward to the conversation!

Webinar: Women in Business

Wednesday, 8 October 2014
12:30 – 1:15 p.m. Eastern Time

Darden women make a significant impact every day – at Darden, in the community and around the world. Join this interactive panel of women MBAs as they discuss their experiences at Darden, business school culture, what it means to be a leader, and resources such as the Forte Foundation and Graduate Women in Business. After a brief introduction, there will be a 30-minute Q&A session. We hope to see you there!

View additional Darden MBA events on our website.

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Upcoming LGBT Admissions Events in San Francisco and New York

Darden is pleased to partner with several schools to host admissions events for the LGBT community.  These events will address areas of interest to LGBT candidates and are open to all prospective students.

San Francisco:

New York:

We encourage you to learn more about Darden’s inclusive community. We look forward to meeting you!

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2014 Leadership Speaker Series

Each year, Darden invites high-level executives and C-suite business leaders hailing from industries such as healthcare, food and beverage, and luxury goods to discuss their approaches to leading in organizations.  Past speakers have included executives from Google, Whole Foods, MasterCard, Electronic Arts, Johnson & Johnson and more.

During their visit, speakers share stories, expertise and advice with Darden students, faculty and staff. This fall’s leadership speaker series schedule is as follows:

All Darden Leadership Speaker Series events are free and open to the public. Prospective students are welcome to attend any of these events.

You can view the complete schedule on the Darden website.

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Darden’s Innovative Curriculum: National Outdoor Leadership School

Each year, Darden launches several new experiential learning courses, giving students the opportunity to practice what they learn in the classroom in a real-world setting. Last December, several Second Year students participated in a pilot program with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in the Arizona wilderness. Over the course of one week, the students were responsible for leading each other through 40 miles of canyons and high mountain passes.

In the following video, Mark Silvers (MBA ’14) discusses this field experience with classmates and faculty members in Arizona:

Video: Darden MBA Students Hike Through Arizona with the National Outdoor Leadership School

Read more about the NOLS Field Experience. You can also learn more about Darden experiential electives on our website.

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Experience the Case Method at a Darden Reception in Your City

MBA Admissions Dean Video Blog: Attend a Darden Event in Your City

The enthusiasm with which Darden’s top-ranked faculty teach is infectious, and much of it stems from the School’s dynamic method of teaching. If you’ve heard about our case method approach (we’re one of only a few schools in the country that teach predominantly with this method), you probably wonder how and if it actually changes how and what you learn.

Experience the Case Method at a Darden Reception

If you haven’t experienced the case method in action, we invite you to attend a Darden class. Can’t make it to Charlottesville? In Charlotte, Dallas, Houston and Los Angeles, we’re bringing the case method experience to you.

When you arrive at the event, you’ll receive a short one-page case on NoBull Burger, an entrepreneurial gourmet veggie burger company launched in Charlottesville and now expanding.

You’ll read the case while enjoying complimentary refreshments and hors d’oeuvres. Then you’ll discuss what you’ve read in small groups of other prospective students and Darden alumni, who always eagerly embrace the chance to talk about cases from the Darden classroom. These small groups mimic our Darden learning team environment in which you work through questions with several of your classmates before you return to the classroom for a larger case discussion.

Admissions Dean Sara Neher leads a mock case in Philadelphia

MBA Admissions Dean Sara Neher leads a mini-case in Philadelphia

Assistant Dean of MBA Admissions Sara Neher (who also teaches a Second Year elective course) will then lead an engaging conversation about the case with the whole group. The difference between lecture-style classes and Darden’s case method approach will become immediately apparent. Drawing from a diverse set of experiences allows for lively, dynamic conversations that give you a myriad of perspectives on real business problems and the knowledge to make the best decision.

The answers are not black and white, and neither are the decisions you’ll make after business school. Join us for a case discussion and watch the complexity of business come to life the same way it does in the classroom.

Meet Darden MBA Alumni in Your City

Following the case discussion, you will be able to personally speak with our alumni and learn more about their experiences at Darden and beyond.

Meet MBA alumni in your city at a Darden reception

Meet MBA alumni in your city at a Darden reception

While we’re only teaching the mini-case in Charlotte, Dallas, Houston and Los Angeles, you will still be able to meet Darden admissions representatives and alumni at Darden Receptions around the world by attending a Darden Reception.

We hope to see you at one of our events soon!

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The Darden MBA Class of 2016 Profile

Darden is excited to welcome 417 students to the MBA, MBA for Executives (EMBA) and Global MBA for Executives (GEMBA) Class of 2016.

The full-time MBA class — which is 32 percent women and has more Hispanic students than any previous class — includes pilots, painters, rock climbers, a professional musician and a number of professional athletes (one was a National Football League player).

You can learn more about this year’s full-time MBA class profile below:


Learn more about the EMBA and GEMBA class profiles.

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Upcoming Darden Webinars: MBA Student Panel and Career Development

Meet Darden Admissions representatives online every other Wednesday at 12:30 – 1:15 p.m. (Eastern Time) during our Darden Admissions Webinars. These live, bi-weekly webinars will feature different topics to help you learn more about what distinguishes the Darden experience, faculty and network from other top MBA programs.

To participate these webinars, simply log into our online platform as a guest at the time of the event.

The Experience: An MBA Student Panel

Wednesday, 10 September 2014
12:30 – 1:15 p.m. Eastern Time

Join SY Darden students for an interactive panel on life at Darden and in Charlottesville. Hear firsthand accounts of how Darden’s inspiring and intense experience in and out of the classroom prepared them for their summer internships. We welcome any and all questions!

Career Development at Darden

Wednesday, 24 September 2014
12:30 – 1:15 p.m. Eastern Time

Darden’s Career Development Center provides you with several resources to prepare you for a career in any industry. Learn about our unique integrated career curriculum, one-on-one professional career advising, Second Year student coaches, on- and off-Grounds recruiting, job treks, career clubs, workshops and conferences, and more. There will be a 15-minute presentation, followed by a 30-minute Q&A session.

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MBA Admissions Events: On the Road With Top Business Schools

September brings lots of travel for the Darden admissions team; in addition to Darden Receptions, Forté Forums and Consortium MAPs events, we are partnering with several schools to host MBA admissions events across the U.S. and around the world.

We invite you to learn more about Darden and other top business schools in your city and introduce yourself to the Darden Admissions Committee member at your event!

During the week of 8 September, come meet Kristen Egan in Ann Arbor, Minneapolis, and Toronto.  Or join Catie Yeilding in Texas for events in Dallas, Austin and Houston.

Cheryl Jones will be in Miami, Charlotte and Atlanta during the week of 15 September. Later in the month, Katherine Alford will be coming to Europe and looks forward to meeting candidates in London, Paris, and Madrid!

And finally, for those in Southeast Asia, please join Rita Morrow in Taipei, Ho Chi Minh, Singapore and Jakarta.

To learn about Darden receptions and other events, please visit our Events & Receptions page. We look forward to meeting you and sharing more about the Darden experience.

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