We welcome Associate Director of Diversity Recruitment Marc Paulo Guzman back to the blog for a Q&A about our upcoming Diversity Conference (3–5 October). Read on for insights about this year’s event, and be sure to check out Marc Paulo’s recent interview on the Experience Darden podcast. Interested in learning more about this year’s Diversity Conference? Join Marc Paulo on 14 August at 1:30 p.m. EDT for a webinar about the event. During this session, Marc Paulo will share more information about the application process, the broader goals for the conference, and programming and activities. We hope to see you online!

What is the Diversity Conference?

The Darden Diversity Conference is an opportunity for prospective students to experience how Darden embraces and celebrates diversity and inclusion. The conference provides special focus for prospective students from diverse backgrounds, including women, LGBTQ and members of under-represented racial or ethnic communities.

The event also brings together current students and alumni from diverse backgrounds, or whose lives and career passions echo themes of diversity and inclusion. The mission of the conference is to help diverse candidates see themselves as potential students at Darden, experience the value of the case method as it relates to diversity and inclusion (D&I) and connect with members of the Darden community.

Why an application this year? What are you hoping to learn through the application process?

This year, we are using an application-based process for the Diversity Conference. The goal of the application is to learn more about our potential participants and any D&I needs they may have. The application also allows us to make sure the conference is a good match for potential attendees; we hope that each person’s personal goals resonate with our broader vision for the event.

The application itself is fairly brief and should take no more than one hour to complete. Students will be asked to share some basic personal information (biographical details, academic background, etc.), upload a resume and answer a short essay question: “Introduce yourself and tell us why you would like to attend the Darden Diversity Conference. (300 words).”

In addition, as a benefit for individuals who submit a Diversity Conference application and have not previously opened an application for one of the 2020 rounds, the information you share in your Diversity Conference application will automatically create a Round 1 application. We hope this will save you some time should you decide to apply to Darden in this year’s cycle.

How do you think you’ll choose attendees? Any sense of how you will approach the application review process?

We will prioritize those who plan to apply for this application cycle. That said, we also welcome candidates who are still in the earlier exploration stages of the MBA admissions process, and we hope to have them in attendance, space permitting.

Any tips for Diversity Conference applicants?

First and foremost, give yourself time to put together a quality application. The essay, while pretty short (300 words), is a great opportunity for you to introduce yourself to our team. We have really enjoyed reading the responses we’ve received so far, and we look forward to hearing from additional prospective students in the coming weeks.

Apply early. Since space is limited, we will take note of the order in which applicants apply.

If you are invited to attend, please be sure to reply before the RSVP deadline (9 September), or else we will open your spot to another applicant on the waiting list.

Lastly, attendees planning to apply in our 2020 cycle will also have an opportunity to schedule an interview during the Diversity Conference. However, interviews are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to act quickly!

When you think about this year’s Diversity Conference, what are you most excited about?

I am excited for prospective students to learn more about the Darden experience. During the two-day event, participants will be able to hear from current and former students about their experiences with diversity, inclusion and belonging at Darden.

I’m looking forward to attendees learning how much agency students have in creating positive change and fostering inclusion and belonging within the Darden community. Finally, I am excited for attendees to hear from our faculty and leadership team about the mission and vision of D&I in and out of the classroom.

This year, there will be more representation and exposure from companies from various industries. We hope to hear from alumni at those companies about their professional lives, viewed through the lens of D&I.

We will also be showcasing how alumni can remain engaged with the Darden community after they graduate, including the contributions of the Dean’s Diversity Advisory Council (DDAC). We hope that this conference will provide a full-circle experience of the Darden community.