Class of 2018 Darden MBA Student, Collin Bauer, on #WhyDarden
With all the opportunity costs of attending a two-year MBA program, I focused on three main criteria when applying to schools and choosing my MBA program. I wanted to:
1) learn as much about business from a practical and academic standpoint as possible
2) have the opportunity to transition into an industry and function that I was passionate about, and
3) gain hands-on leadership experience within a strong community of students, alumni and faculty.
Even with a few months to go before I walk across the stage at graduation, I’m happy to say each criterion has been surpassed in every respect during my time here at Darden. First, the faculty and academic experience speaks for itself at Darden. Darden has been consistently ranked #1 in the world for its learning experience, and never in my life have I been more excited to go to class! In the core, Darden is structured such that each case (you’ll complete a total of 300-400 during your time at Darden) is essentially analyzed three times – first on your own, then with your learning team, and finally with your section and faculty member – which allows for opinions across your entire class of 325 and a much deeper discussion than you would otherwise have. Furthermore, the inevitability of a cold-call means that everyone brings their A-game to class.
In terms of switching careers, I was able to leverage my five years of pre-Darden experience as a strategy consultant within the payments industry to transition into a think-tank role inside E&J Gallo Winery, the world’s largest wine company and one of Glassdoor’s Top-15 Best Places to Work. Darden’s vast network of alumni, corporate recruiters, and resources within the Career Development Center were instrumental in my ‘career switch’ and I can’t wait to take my fellow Darden classmates on tours throughout Napa and Sonoma next year!
Even after having such fantastic academic and recruiting experiences here at Darden, easily my favorite part about the school has been the strong community. Unlike MBA programs in large cities such as New York or Chicago, Darden resides within a college town with very few Charlottesville-natives in the program. This naturally creates a culture where students live together and spend their free time having fun and building connections with others in the full-time MBA program.
Nowhere else is this culture more apparent than through the leadership opportunities within the school. If you’re able to visit the campus (please do, you won’t regret it!) you’ll immediately notice that nearly every event, club and activity on grounds is student-led and student-driven. By taking advantage of these opportunities around me to become a member of the Student Admissions Committee, a Career Coach and President of the Outdoors Club, I have had the ability to gain an insane amount of hands-on leadership experience in a very short amount of time.
As someone who would like to own a company in the near future, serving as President for the nearly 400-member Outdoors Club at Darden has been the highlight of my MBA experience. Beyond managing expectations of my board, club members, and the overall Darden community, my involvement has also allowed me to witness the best that Charlottesville and Central-Virginia have to offer. Among other events, the Outdoors Club led first-year and second-year camping trips to the Shenandoah at the beginning of the year, a white-water rafting trip on the Gauley River, bi-weekly hikes throughout the Central-Virginian Appalachia, ski trips to nearby Wintergreen Resort, a NYE trip to Park City, curling at the local ice rink for the Olympics, skeet shooting, paintball, and we’re planning an upcoming NASCAR trip in April.
While all of these activities have been fun, my strong positive feelings about Darden’s community were most recently confirmed during an Outdoors Club trip to Tuck in February for their annual Winter Carnival. Tuck invites students from all of the top-20 MBA programs, and from day-one it was apparent that Darden students were easily the most enthusiastic and encouraging of any school. While we left Tuck as winners of the all-MBA hotdog eating contest and best costumes (pictured, colonials!), we really won the award for best MBA program.
If I were to redo my MBA experience, I can’t imagine putting my why to work anywhere else. #WhyDarden