Summer Stories from the Tech Club, Part 2

We’re back with another summer internship story from the Tech Club. Linden Schult (Class of 2017) is in Seattle this summer, interning with Amazon. See what she has to say below:

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Darden 2016 Fall Open Houses

We are thrilled to announce that our 2016 Open Houses are now open for registration.

Darden offers several open houses throughout the fall season to help prospective students learn more about the school. Each event includes a full day of programming designed to help you assess your fit with the program and the Darden community. This year, each open house will also include a discussion of a specific area of interest for prospective students.

You can find topics and registration links below. Prospective applicants are welcome to attend any one of these open houses, but are encouraged to visit on the day that most closely aligns with their interests.

Monday, 5 September
Entrepreneurship & Innovation – Register

Monday, 12 September
Business in Society – Register

Monday, 19 September
Women at Darden – Register

Monday, 26 September
Asset Management & Investing – Register

Monday, 3 October
Technology & Data Analytics – Register

Monday, 10 October
Military at Darden – Register

Thursday, 27 October and Friday, 28 October18
Diversity at Darden – Register

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Summer Stories from the Tech Club

The Technology Club is one of over 50 student-run clubs and organizations here at Darden. With over 200 members, the Tech Club is dedicated to connecting its members with opportunities at tech companies, providing industry knowledge from thought leaders, offering hands-on skills training, and providing mentorship and recruiting support.

This summer, members of the Tech Club are hard at work at internships around the globe, and  few of them are sharing their intern experiences with us. We’ll post the stories one by one on the blog, or you can head over to the Darden Technology Club’s website to read more of them and to learn more about what the Tech Club has to offer. Enjoy! Continue reading

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Tips for Submitting Your Best B-School Application

Now that our application is live and we are on the road at events, we wanted to share a few tips on how to make your business school application as strong as possible.

  1. Be able to articulate your ‘why MBA?’

Why do you want to get your MBA? It may seem like the simplest question, but it’s also one of the most important. The most successful b-school candidates can authentically articulate where they are coming from, where they want to go, and how an MBA will help them get there. Sharing your ‘why MBA’ with friends and family throughout the application process can be a great way to build confidence and enthusiasm prior to answering this question in an admissions interview.

  1. Do your research

Before you hit submit, do as much research as you can to make sure you are applying to schools that are right for you and your goals. Learn about the community, the academics and career support. Do they align with what you are looking for in a business school?

Don’t forget that fit goes two ways — and you feeling like you would fit in at a school is just as important as the school deciding that you are a good fit for its class.

  1. Know your strengths

Business schools are looking for candidates who will contribute to the community in a meaningful way – and there are many ways to do that. Think of what makes you unique and highlight that in your application and interview. What perspective will you bring to the classroom? How will you contribute to the community? We want to know how your background and experiences will shape our global community.

  1. ….And your weaknesses

Maybe you don’t have much quantitative experience, or your undergraduate GPA had its lower moments. Maybe you haven’t had a lot of experience in a global arena. We recognize that you are seeking an MBA to grow, learn and fill in some gaps. Consider signing up for a course like Darden Business Essentials for an introduction to business school topics and fundamental areas like Accounting, Finance, Operations and Marketing. Focus on your strengths, and also be aware of your weaknesses and how you want address them throughout the application.

Most importantly, you should complete your application with great thought and care. For more tips on applying to business school, watch Sara Neher’s application tips video series, come visit us in Charlottesville, or meet us out on the road! We look forward to getting to know you this application cycle.

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Sara Neher: Real Humans of MBA Admissions with Clear Admit

Clear Admit recently started a series called Real Humans of MBA Admissions, and Darden’s very own Dean of Admissions, Sara Neher, got to kick off the series. Catch a sneak peak of Sara’s responses below, and then head over to Clear Admit to read (and watch!) Sara’s full interview. She had a lot of fun answering the questions, and her dog, Dora, even makes an appearance!

Coffee or tea? Diet coke

Beach or mountains? Beach

Morning person or night owl? Night owl

Pet peeve? Not speaking up for yourself

Guilty pleasure? The Bachelor and Bachelorette

Favorite virtue in others? Integrity

The rest of the interview is available at Clear Admit!

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Darden MBA 2016-17 Essay Question and Deadlines Announced

The Darden School of Business is pleased to announce its essay question for the 2016-2017 application season. The application is not yet live, but we wanted to share for those of you who would like to get a jump-start on writing your essay.

Describe the most important professional feedback you have received and how you responded to this feedback. (500 words)

In asking this question, the Admissions Committee invites you to reflect on your professional experience – both the lessons you learned and how you have used that information to move forward. When we read your answer, we hope to learn more about your background and about how you use feedback to better yourself, as well as how well you can articulate your learnings.

We are also excited to release the Full-Time Residential application deadlines for the upcoming season:

  • Round 1 – October 4, 2016
  • Round 2 – January 9, 2017
  • Round 3 – April 6, 2017

We look forward to reading your applications this fall!

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Financial Times Ranks UVA Darden No. 3 in the World for Entrepreneurship

This piece originally appeared in Darden’s News & Events section on 27 June 2016.

Financial Times today ranked the University of Virginia Darden School of Business the No. 3 MBA program in the world for entrepreneurship.

This ranking recognizes the success of entrepreneurs from within the Darden community and the support that the Darden School and its global alumni network provide them.

“Darden has built one of the leading entrepreneurial ecosystems in all of graduate business education,” said Darden Dean Scott Beardsley. “The combination of Darden’s Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the School’s outstanding faculty and committed alumni, and the impact of the University of Virginia — with its strongholds in business, law, engineering, medicine and life sciences — is a powerful one for fostering remarkable entrepreneurial leaders.”

The Financial Times entrepreneurship ranking methodology considers each school’s entrepreneurial activity and successes, and the level of support provided both by the school and its alumni.

Darden received high marks for helping entrepreneurs start, finance and recruit talent to their ventures. Darden’s alumni also ranked near the top for helping entrepreneurs access a network that enabled them to advance their startups.

“Darden’s commitment to inspiring entrepreneurial thinking and action among its students rests on a foundation of world-class faculty, vast curricular and co-curricular entrepreneurship offerings, access to a worldwide network of advisors, and deep engagement with the entrepreneurial ecosystem at the University and beyond,” said Sean Carr, executive director of the Batten Institute. “We are proud of this recent recognition of our global standing, and it energizes us to do even more to help activate the next generation of entrepreneurs from Darden.”

Darden’s entrepreneurial ecosystem offers:

  • Merit-based scholarships for entrepreneurially oriented students from around the world
  • Leading-edge faculty, whose work in entrepreneurship and innovation includes breakthrough ideas on effectuation and design thinking
  • Diverse and extensive entrepreneurship-related MBA courses and ongoing curricular innovations
  • Venture incubation and acceleration, hosted by Darden at the W.L. Lyons Brown III i.Lab at UVA
  • A venture internship program, supporting MBA students to join startups or VC firms
  • Support for University-wide competitions, research partnerships and conferences
  • Online courses, including specializations in design thinking and agile development
  • Tight linkages with entrepreneurial hubs in Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C.
  • Global Business Experiences for students in Stockholm (with a view on sustainability) and Barcelona (for strategy as design)

“The Darden School’s mission is to improve the world by developing and inspiring responsible leaders who are both global and entrepreneurial, and this latest ranking signals that we are meeting that challenge,” said Beardsley.

The Financial Times ranking follows the announcement earlier this year by the National Venture Capital Association naming Charlottesville the fastest-growing venture capital ecosystem in the nation, driven by investments secured by several Darden-supported ventures.

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Visit Darden at Fridays in July

If you are interested in visiting Darden and Charlottesville over the summer, we have two upcoming opportunities in the month of July.

At Fridays in July, you will meet current students and faculty, tour the Darden Grounds and have lunch with members of the Admissions Committee. Although class is not in session, this event provides a great introduction to Darden and its tight-knit community.

Friday, 15 July 2016: Register Here

Friday, 29 July 2016: Register Here

We will also be announcing our Fall Open Houses in the coming weeks, and class visits will resume in August. To stay up to date on ways to visit the Darden Grounds, please go to our website.

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Andrew Rose (MBA ’03) Shares His Most Memorable ‘Darden Moment’

We asked Andrew Rose (MBA ’03) to tell us about his most memorable ‘Darden moment.’ Below, hear about his Global Business Experience in China and why it still sticks with him today.

Watch the video: Andrew Rose’s ‘Darden Moment’


Andrew Rose (MBA ’03) is the president, chairman and CEO of, the fast-growing comparison shopping site with a focus on insurance. Hear how the Darden School broadened Rose’s skill set and knowledge base, helping him climb the ranks of a technology company at the forefront of many industry trends. has continued to recruit Darden graduates, who Rose says are ideally suited to thrive and lead in a fast-moving, increasingly global enterprise.

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What’s the Big IDEA? MBAs Confront Ambiguity to Drive Systematic Innovation (Part 3)

This is the final entry in a blog series chronicling a learning process which enables MBAs to make effective decisions when facing real-world ambiguity. By applying a unique innovation framework, MBAs and others can tackle the thorniest innovation challenges and create value.

The Day of Reckoning

Listen: Faculty and students work through the creative process

5 May, Darden Classroom

“This is about a possibility-based conversation,” says Professor Lalin Anik, the moderator of the Land O’Lakes panel. “Let’s be creative, collaborative, and kind.”

It’s the final day of Darden’s IDEA course, and the room is practically humming with anticipation. After seven weeks of learning about and working through an innovation framework – where students researched a real-world challenge, set design criteria, generated concepts, and then tested and refined those concepts – they are finally ready to present their ideas to the corporate and non-profit sponsors.

Khan Academy, Capital One, Save the Children and 11 other sponsors comment on innovation ideas offered by Darden's first-year MBA class

Khan Academy, Capital One, Save the Children and 11 other sponsors comment on innovation ideas offered by Darden’s first-year MBA class

Rob Duggan, of team Land O’Lakes (LOL), says that like most of his fellow first-year MBA students he had no experience with concepts such as design thinking before starting the course. “I really had no idea how exactly to storyboard something that isn’t physical,” he recalls. “Going into most classes I’d think, well, I have no idea what this going to look like in an hour and a half. But we developed some viable ideas, and I think all the groups did.”

Today, Rob’s group is the first to present their solutions to the Land O’Lakes challenge: how to increase understanding of GMOs. They’ve come up with a concept they call “the sustainability score” – a numerical score or a set of icons that would rate products based on water, energy, and pesticide use (GMOs help reduce the levels of these resources needed to grow crops). “It helps change the conversation from ‘We swear these (GMOs) are good,’ to ‘here are the benefits,'” Duggan explains.

In working through the IDEA framework, his team identified and tested one of their concept’s core assumptions – that consumers actually care about reducing water, energy, and pesticide usage. To test it, the team offered Darden students the choice of two identical-looking apples, one with a non-GMO label, the other with a GMO label that also stated that it had been produced with less water and less energy, and fewer pesticides.

“Our hypothesis was that Darden students would shift toward the GMO apple because of these benefits,” Duggan says. And in fact, 77% of the interviewees chose the GMO apple for those reasons.

“What we really took away from this is it’s definitely possible to shift the conversation,” he says.

After their presentation, panelist Cameron Wallace, a 2008 Darden graduate who’s now the director of corporate strategy and business development for Land O’Lakes, praised their framing of the issue. “The thing I like the best is the apple test – you didn’t stop at the idea,” he said.

Later, Duggan reflected that the design thinking concept of prototyping is one he’ll carry with him in the future. “Instead of thinking of prototypes as perfect models for a product line, we used prototypes as rough tests of assumptions,” he said. “In this case it was basically just an apple and a piece of paper. It’s kind of nice to see how quickly and simply you can test an idea to see if it’s worth jumping into or if you’re missing something much bigger.”

Watch: Darden MBA student Elizabeth Carnahan reflects on the value of the IDEA course

These are the kinds of takeaways the creators of the IDEA course are hoping will stick with all their students as they complete their Darden educations and move on to the larger business world.

“Our hope is that the students have learned a process by which to develop creative solutions to messy, open-ended problems,” said Professor Mike Lenox, who led the faculty team.

While the emphasis of the new course was on learning that process, not on delivering perfect concepts, sponsors reported that the students’ ideas opened up new paths forward for them.

“We honestly didn’t have any ideas about where the teams would take the problem,” said Peter Olson, a 2014 Darden grad who’s now a senior manager at Capital One, and one of the corporate sponsors. “I was very impressed with the quality of the research and comments.”


On the final day, student peers select the favorite ideas and winning team

Reflecting on the environment Darden students will be confronting when they graduate, Professor Marc Lipson noted that the business world has changed. “Having an innovative focus, the ability to grapple with uncertainty and move forward with an ill-defined problem, is what businesses do now,” he said. “The skills IDEA teaches are at the center of what leaders need to be able to do today.”

Professor Marc Lipson and students on the final day of the IDEA course

Professor Marc Lipson and students on the final day of the IDEA course

Writer: Laura Longhine
Audio Interviews: Emily Richardson-Lorente
Videographer: Kris Seale
Photographer: Ashley Twiggs
Public Relations: Sophie Zunz

This post first appeared in the The Batten Institute‘s newsletter. The Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation seeks to improve society by creating knowledge about the transformative power of entrepreneurship and innovation and by cultivating principled, entrepreneurial leaders. We invite you to explore their section on our websitefollow them on social media, or join the IDEA network on LinkedIn.

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