Michelle Gauthreaux (Class of 2019) came to Darden with a background in consulting at Citrix and will leave with a new consulting positioned lined up — this time with Accenture. Gauthreaux says Darden helped elevate her professional capabilities, making her a confident decision-maker comfortable with ambiguity. Read on to learn what she’ll take away from the Darden experience and what advice she has for prospective students.

Why did you choose Darden?

People and the case study method. I chose Darden based on two experiences I had throughout the recruiting process. When visiting Darden for the first time, I remember sitting in a class and being blown away by the quick pace, depth of the conversation and the “aha” moments I had when just observing. The people that make up this community are extremely intelligent and every time I step into the classroom I walk out knowing something I didn’t at the beginning.

How has your experience been?

I have really enjoyed my time at Darden — being pushed outside of my comfort zone and developing friendships that I know will last for a lifetime. From the classes I have taken to the clubs I’ve been involved with, Darden is a unique community and one that I am proud to be a part of.

How do you think Darden prepared you for the role you accepted? Anything you think helped differentiate you in the application process?

Darden has prepared me for a role in consulting by continually putting me in the position of taking in large amounts of data and making a decision on the spot. Rarely in the real world do leaders have the opportunity to run every analysis and have all the data they’d ideally like in order to make a decision. Darden has prepared me well to deal with ambiguity, know what questions to ask, and most importantly, when to stop analyzing and make a decision.

What advice would you give prospective students considering Darden?

I recommend every prospective student I speak to do some soul searching before arriving on campus. The core is incredibly busy and knowing what you would like to recruit for and what you will not recruit for is extremely helpful. It’s okay to explore at Darden — that’s the point of recruiting — but there are so many events that occur at the same time that you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to attend them all. I spent a few weeks before school doing research on companies I was interested in and creating a target list of 10 to 15 companies I wanted to recruit with.

Secondly, and almost more importantly, take time before school to relax! Travel, visit friends and binge-watch Netflix. The first couple of months at Darden are a whirlwind so make sure you’re well-rested and ready to hit the ground running.