Darden MBA Class of 2020 student, Evan Covington, grew up in Houston, TX and majored in East Asian Studies at Harvard. Evan recently took time out of his busy first year to tell us about what led him to Darden, and what he plans to do after graduating. Check out his answers below!

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why?

Respectful. This was easily the first quality that surfaced in my mind. My MBA classmates are some of the most respectful, humble, and self-effacing individuals I have had the pleasure of knowing. At Darden, people are open to exploring different opinions and learning about each other’s unique life experiences. As MBA students, we inevitably encounter perspectives that may run contradictory to our most comfortable beliefs, and it is important that we remain empathetic and respectful towards these perspectives. This helps the entire business school community grow into a wiser and more inclusive environment.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA?

I applied to University of Virginia Darden School of Business through the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management (CGSM). One of the key factors that led me to select Darden for my full-time MBA program was my interview with Wendy Huber – Assistant Dean for the Full-Time MBA program and a member of the board of trustees for CGSM.

I distinctly remember how relaxed and “no-frills” my conversation was with her. I shared stories about my experiences working in China, living life as an LGBT African-American man, my family and my career aspirations. I asked questions about how Darden supports mental health, the impact of the August 2017 Charlottesville protests on the community, and why people love Darden so much.

I was blown away by the candidness and “down-to-earth” substance of our conversation. The nature of this interview was important to me because I wanted to join an MBA program that was honest about where it is and where it would like to make improvements. I also saw this interview as indicative of how Darden wants students to show up on a daily basis. After my interview with Wendy, I concluded I could bring my whole self to this MBA program, and I became excited about the prospect of becoming a Darden student.

What club or activity are you most excited about?

I am most looking forward to participating in the Pride at Darden club – the school’s LGBT student and LGBT ally organization. While the LGBT student community at Darden is relatively small compared to other business schools, the ally community at Darden is particularly strong, and this has made Darden a more comfortable environment in which to learn and live as an LGBT student. I also look forward to working with students and admissions to understand how Darden can attract more prospective LGBT students and grow the numbers over future years.

How did you approach finding the MBA program that was right for you?

Visiting was tremendously helpful. Whether it was through a school-sponsored diversity event or a casual in-person walk-through, spending time on campus was absolutely critical in helping me learn whether I could see myself at different schools. I also took time to meet with admissions officers at information sessions and connect with current students. I found this to be a great way to gain an unbiased perspective on each school’s culture.

Lastly, I reflected on what really mattered most to me in a future MBA program. Through this process, I realized that I wanted to be in an academically rigorous program with a smaller student body and a strong alumni network. Additionally, I knew I wanted to be in an environment where my background could make a personal and positive impact on the experiences of my classmates.

What do you plan to do after you graduate?

After Darden, I am hoping to return to the technology industry in a product management capacity. The exact location is up in the air for now, but I love tech and hope that my experiences in human resources and operations and my MBA training can transfer to a career move to product management.