A total of 441 full-time MBA and Executive MBA students graduated from Darden on 19 May, walking the University of Virginia’s historic Lawn as part of the University’s Final Exercises and then receiving their diplomas at a ceremony on Darden’s Flagler Courtyard in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Inspirational advice, memories with family (view photos from graduation day) and recognition of the Class of 2019’s record-setting job placement success were themes of the day. The impressive recruiting accomplishments of the class was detailed on The Darden Report’s graduation recap:
As of 16 May, 87 percent of students in the full-time MBA class had accepted job offers, up from 84 percent for the Class of 2018 at its graduation. The picture is bright for international students, as well, with 80 percent of full-time international students seeking employment accepting full-time offers, up from 70 percent at the same time last year.
Consulting remains the top draw for Darden students, with 39 percent currently entering the field, followed by financial services (25 percent) and technology (17 percent).
The Boston Consulting Group is currently the employer hiring the most graduates. Additional top hiring companies include Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, Wayfair and Microsoft.
Continuing the trend of attracting some of the highest salaries for new graduates, early figures show Darden graduates reporting an average base salary of $136,169. That is a more than $8,000 increase from $127,767 for the Class of 2018, which U.S. News & World Report said secured the third highest salary and bonus of all MBA graduating classes, behind only Stanford and Wharton.
Words of Wisdom for the Class of 2019
Dean Scott Beardsley; Anne McKenna (MBA ’19), elected by the full-time MBA class as graduation speaker; and Chris Thomson (EMBA ’19), elected by the Executive MBA class as graduation speaker, addressed the thousands of graduates, families and friends attending the ceremony in person and watching via livestream around the world.
Beardsley’s speech introduced the concept of the “Vitruvian Leader,” and concluded with what he called a 137-character tweet:
Go make the world a better place, in the way you want to. And in doing, so may you achieve your full potential. #WhyDarden. Class of 2019!
McKenna spoke to ways the new graduates could start to change the world:
Don’t forget that change begins not from large, systemic changes, but instead from a collection of many small changes. As we embark on successful careers, the challenge is to critique by creating — we have the tools and the network to create the change we desire.
Thomson reminded graduates of Darden’s greatest strength — teaching students to be comfortable with uncertainty:
The Darden School of Business’ core competence is education. They’re really good at it — award-winning internationally. But what makes the Darden heart truly beat is the humility to allow a space to materialize, a space where the outcome is uncertain. That space is molded with hundreds of hours of preparation outside the classroom on the little things, in-class pregnant pauses, sweat-riveting cold calls, and if the conditions are right, where a group of 122 individuals are invited to enter and interact in that space. The outcome is not a foregone conclusion. It’s unscripted and uncertain. Often uncomfortable. Never linear, and often redirected.