It’s no secret that Darden has one of the most engaged alumni networks of any top business school. Is it because Darden’s full-time MBA program in Charlottesville, Virginia creates a tight-knit residential experience? Is it because the case method and learning team approach to academics bonds students for life? Is it the faculty who go above and beyond to create deep community and lifelong skills? The answer is… yes. Five Darden alumni recently shared advice for students — no matter where you are in your own business school journey, we hope you’ll enjoy learning a bit more about the Darden experience from those who know it best.
Missy Jenkins (MBA ’16)
Project Leader at Boston Consulting Group
Faculty Connection: One of the biggest things that drew me to Darden was the fact that faculty are truly part of the community. The size of the Darden classroom and the Darden approach to teaching means that faculty truly get to know you and you get to know them everyday in the classroom, and their involvement outside of the classroom really facilitates even deeper, meaningful relationships that last past Darden. There are a number of professors I still keep in touch with today, nearly five years after I’ve left Darden, to chat about my career and to just to catch up on life. I feel very lucky to consider many of my Darden professors mentors, but I also feel very lucky to call many of them friends!
Tools Darden Provides: I went to Darden because I knew it would give me the foundational business knowledge that I was lacking as an undergraduate history major and former high school educator. After my two years at Darden, I came away not only with a better understanding of core business concepts, frameworks, and terminology, but also as a better leader, communicator, and person. Darden certainly set me up for success in my first role out of Darden in professional sports and it gave me the tools and resources to then make a transition into consulting. My ability to work in teams, to be hypothesis-driven in my approach to problem solving, and my confidence to speak up in a room with senior leaders is certainly owed to my time and experience at Darden.
Check out Jenkins’ story of her career switch, which was assisted by Darden’s Armstrong Center for Alumni Career Services.
Morolake Thompson (MBA ’20)
Product Support Manager at Google, Marketing + Customer Engagement at Oemi Botanicals
Going to Learning Team for hours and peeling through pages of cases felt like a grueling experience while in school. But the foundational skills in delegating, collaborating with others, and perspective taking have been at the forefront of my current role. Lean into the learning experience, the simulations, and the opportunity to learn from others’ experiences. Darden is the perfect breeding ground to explore various leadership tactics and make novice mistakes.
John Shaughnessy (MBA ’07)
Head of Marketplace Business Development at LiveRamp
My Darden degree is like a jet pack. It’s propelled my career forward–faster–and allowed me to weave successfully between different industries and roles. I’ve felt confident taking on entirely new challenges, knowing this problem-solving toolkit will shorten any learning curve I come across. It de-risks my big aspirations.
Shaughnessy was an alumni host for the 2019 West Coast Tech Trek to the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn more about this unique career opportunity for full-time MBA students.
Maureen Keegan (MBA ’17)
Senior Manager at Bain & Company
My biggest piece of advice for anyone considering business school is to make sure you take the time to reflect on why you want to go to business school and what you’re hoping to get out of the experience and then pick the school that’s will enable you to do that and is the best fit for you. For me, Darden stood out because I knew I would be to be challenged to develop the hard and soft skills that I needed to take the next step in my career, but was going to be doing that surrounded by supportive classmates and faculty in a place that I was excited to call home for 2 years.
Abby Ruiz de Gamboa (MBA ’04)
Principal at Deloitte Consulting
The team-based learning environment and case method at Darden provided a great foundation for a career in consulting. The idea that we came together, had a lot of data (not always all of the data that we’d like, however) and needed to use the experience of the team to assess the problem and form a point of view on the answer in a short period of time was a perfect simulation of the craft of consulting. And the case method, which forced me to learn to articulate my perspectives and have an active dialogue to get to the right answer in a working session is a skillset that I honed at Darden and has been core to my success in consulting.
Ruiz de Gamboa serves on Darden’s Corporate Advisory Board, a group of board members that avidly work to strengthen corporate partnerships and grow Darden’s global impact.
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