Darden offers several dual-degree programs in connection with other schools at the University of Virginia. These dual-degree programs are designed to enhance the educational experience beyond what could be achieved if the two degrees were pursued independently (not to mention, in many cases, reduce the time it would take to earn both degrees separately). Second Year students Ethan Silverman and Rachel Barnes are both MBA/JD students, and they recently shared insights about their experiences as both Darden MBAs and UVA School of Law students.

Ethan Silverman (MBA/JD Class of 2021)

Hometown: San Francisco, California

Undergrad: University of California-Berkeley

Pre-Darden Professional Background:

Ethan Silverman, Class of 2021

Before attending UVA, I worked as a product manager at a health care IT startup.

Why Darden? Why a dual degree?

I attended Darden to build a toolkit of technical skills and to develop my perspective as a builder of business, a value creator and a general manager. I knew then, and am grateful to even more fully appreciate now, how well what I learn at Darden compliments my studies at UVA Law.

How are you managing the workload of two degrees?

Darden dual-degree students are integrated into the core Darden community seamlessly. In our First Year at Darden, we are insulated in a firewall, doing and thinking and acting just as any Darden student does. We are all-in on community building activities, including the Darden Cup and other milestone events like 100 Case. Only after our first year at Darden do we begin, as JD/MBAs, to blend our studies between the two schools. This has been an effective structure because I was able to fully experience the rigors and joys of Darden First Year without distraction, as it was meant to be experienced, and now am able to experience the harmony of my two fields of study on a day-to-day basis, thanks to the blending of my academic program.

If you could go back to the start of your program, what would you do differently to get the most out of your experience?

One thing COVID has dramatically reinforced is the importance of capitalizing on every chance to come together with people I care about. I would tell my 1L/FY self to take even more advantage of opportunities to gather with my classmates, to go on adventures in Shenandoah and to local breweries and wineries. These have been the best years of my life, but shoot if I can’t think of times I wish I had rallied and gotten back up off the couch (even if I had just sat down). We live in an amazing community, an amazing part of the country, and there is just so much that we are lucky enough to have access to.

Post-MBA career plans?

To work as an attorney, counseling private equity clients primarily on M&A, in addition to some work on fund formation and debt finance.

What’s your advice to prospective students considering a dual degree?

Proceed with caution, because it is a substantial commitment. Ask your mentors, seek out more advisers and ask them, too. Reach out to current dual-degree students at your target schools. And, ultimately, if you have a passion for learning and are committed to taking advantage of the value of a dual-degree offering, do it. I don’t regret my decision. I haven’t spoken to someone who does.

My advice to aspiring graduate students more generally, whether a dual-degree or single-degree: Pursue your education at a school and in a community in which you’ll be physically and mentally healthy, happy and see yourself thriving. Everything else will fall into place.

Rachel Barnes (MBA/JD Class of 2021) 

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

Undergrad: University of Georgia

Pre-Darden Professional Background: Law

Why Darden? 

Every time I sat in on a class, I was excited by the case method. The level of student engagement is unmatched.

How are the dual-degree students integrated in the main Darden cohort?

Dual-degree students are treated just like everyone else. We are in sections with other students and can participate in everything Darden has to offer.

How are you managing the workload of two degrees?

You have to be clear on your priorities. Dual degree or not, you cannot go to everything. So knowing what your goals and priorities are can help balance work and other events and obligations.

Rachel Barnes, Class of 2021balance work and other events and obligations.

How have you utilized your dual degree and leveraged your connections at each school in your internship/job search process?

During this past summer, because of my dual degree, I was able to do a joint internship between a law firm and in-house at a company. It was a very valuable experience.

If you could go back to the start of your program, what would you do differently to get the most out of your experience?

I would have front loaded my activities so that by the end of Q2, I would already have met most of my class outside of my section and learning team.

Post-MBA career plans?

Working at a law firm doing M&A.

What is your advice to prospective students considering a dual degree?

Go for it! No one I have met thus far has said that they wish they hadn’t done it.

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