Executive MBA Reflections on Charlottesville
In the executive formats of the Darden MBA, students choose whether they would like to attend in person residencies in Charlottesville, VA, or in the DC area in Rosslyn, VA. We asked two members of the Charlottesville cohort to reflect on why C-ville was the right choice for them.
Why did I choose Charlottesville for my Executive MBA location? For me, I wanted to separate my personal and professional life from my school time and really immerse in the Darden experience. Since I live in the DC area, I personally felt the Charlottesville section would give me the best opportunity to achieve these goals.
When I arrive in Charlottesville for a weekend residency, I automatically turn on school mode, and I try to eliminate as many work distractions as possible. Because of this approach, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know my classmates incredibly well and deeply experience being a Darden student. I believe it’s important to make every moment in the program count from the classroom to networking to more informal social opportunities.
Another important aspect of choosing to be part of the Charlottesville section was the schedule. The Charlottesville section holds its monthly residencies on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. After three days of high energy and continuous engagement in and out of the classroom, having Sunday to regroup and reset before jumping back into the work week has been vital. The day off between classes and work has allowed me to consider how I can use the concepts and lessons from each On Grounds and provide my organization with the immediate benefit of my time at Darden.
Being in Charlottesville gives me the opportunity to spend a few days on the beautiful Darden Grounds and experience the greater Charlottesville community. Charlottesville has so much to offer outside of the University – wineries, breweries, hiking, sporting events, and restaurants- and I always look forward to a weekend in Charlottesville and On Grounds.
Charlottesville works for me for several reasons, the first of which is timing. The Executive MBA Program came at the perfect moment in my career. As I was considering pursuing my MBA, I started a new division at my company, and I just couldn’t afford to take two years off for a full-time program. However, I knew I wanted to be in Charlottesville for my MBA experience, and the Executive MBA Program gave me the flexibility to continue advancing my career while enjoying all that Charlottesville has to offer.
I’m also based in Los Angeles, and while I have to fly in an out for residencies, I have found the commute very manageable and the travel time has actually proven to be a great opportunity for me to transition out of work mode and into school mode. It also has given me a chance to catch up on sleep, on classwork, or on regular work. Because of the program design, I have also been able to spend some of my weekend residencies in Rosslyn*, and I have built relationships with students in the Rosslyn section, even though I’m based in Charlottesville. In fact, because of this design feature, many of us think Charlottesville EMBA offers “the best of both worlds” – 12 weekend residencies in Charlottesville and 6 weekend residencies in Rosslyn. I speak with my classmates in the Rosslyn section at least a couple days a week despite our vastly different schedules, and I have really appreciated the opportunity to build my network across both program sections.
In class, my perspective on business is a little different than that of many of my peers. If you’ve been to southern California, you likely know that the business environment and lifestyle in Los Angeles is distinct from what one encounters on the east coast. I have really benefited from spending time with classmates whose backgrounds and perspectives differ from my own as well as those I typically encounter in the course of my everyday work and life in California.
Lastly, I have found that the feel of Charlottesville helps me further separate from work. Just setting foot on the main grounds of the Darden School puts me in an academic mindset. All of my classmates eagerly look forward to each of our weekend residencies together, and there is a genuine enthusiasm each time we return to Charlottesville to learn, to work through problems, and to talk about our lives beyond work.
Bottom line is you can’t go wrong with either location – Charlottesville or Rosslyn. As you think about this decision, you have to ask yourself what you’re personally looking for in an MBA experience and setting. For me, Charlottesville offered everything I was looking for.
*Editor’s Note: During the global quarters, all EMBA format students who are not participating in that quarter’s global residency combine in Rosslyn for the two corresponding weekend residencies. For additional information about the program design and structure, please see: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/emba/admissions/faq/#general