Guest Blog: What Learning Team Means to Me

In today’s guest blog, First Year Martin Erzinger writes about his experiences with his learning team:

MartinErzinger

Martin Erzinger, MBA Class of 2015

“No description of the Darden experience would be complete without talking about the learning team. At a basic level, learning teams are assigned groups of five to six classmates from different sections who gather nightly to prepare for the next day’s case method discussions. In reality, they end up meaning much more.

Learning teams are the backbone of the Darden experience. They’re where some of your strongest friendships will form, where you debrief on the (at times) chaotic pace at Darden, and where you can find a safe place to learn from your dynamic classmates.

To give you the best flavor for the learning team environment, I’d like to describe my awesome learning team – LT20. Our team encompasses a variety of backgrounds and experiences, from analyzing credit risk for Fannie Mae to growing up in Shanghai and working for Ford’s Chinese Division. Darden makes sure that the people in each learning team complement each other well.

You’ll typically meet with your team four nights a week. The meeting times and durations vary between learning teams, but here’s a glance at our team’s usual meeting schedule:

  • 6:45 p.m. – The first few of us trickle into our assigned learning team room after having dinner with our partner or reading cases on our favorite bench in the Darden courtyard. (Sidenote: Charlottesville is BEAUTIFUL. I take every chance I can to enjoy some sunshine while I work.) We love spending time with one another and catching up on the latest news in each other’s lives.
  • 7:00 p.m. – We dive into the cases. Typically, each night has three cases. Every team will divide the work differently, but we divide the cases among us and have a leader and a backup for each one. Rooms are equipped with all the necessary tools — white boards, printers and a full-size digital projector. As one person guides the discussion, everyone feels comfortable enough to toss in questions or acknowledge when the leader is going too fast. This time is when the “rubber meets the road” and you really absorb the material. My classmates have been so amazing in helping me understand everything from accounting to marketing to macroeconomics.
  • 9:00 p.m.(ish) – We usually wrap up after about two hours or so. A few of us typically stick around to catch up on emails and other work. You will find that your teammates are incredible resources to keep track of all the Darden events, as well as help with recruiting and extracurricular activities. Plus, we just like to hang out with each other.

The next day, you will go out of your way to connect with learning teammates at First Coffee (a daily community gathering between first and second class), in the courtyard, or in the hallways between classes. The camaraderie built in learning teams is incredible and is just one of the facets of the Darden experience that make it so unique.”

Martin Erzinger loves being representative for his section (Go Section B!) and building friendships with great people. Before Darden, he worked in Russia and the midwestern United States in the agribusiness sector. He is originally from the great state of Colorado and loves the outdoors in Charlottesville. 

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