We are thrilled to feature a Q&A with Kate Bishop (Class of 2022). Bishop was a Field Artillery Officer in the US Marine Corps, working with cannons

Kate Bishop (Class of 2022)

on a daily basis. She was stationed in Twentynine Palms, California, and also did a deployment to Darwin, Australia.

Veterans, active-duty military and international service members make up approximately 7-8% of each Full-Time MBA class. As a public university, UVA Darden is one of the few Top 10 MBA programs where veterans can benefit from the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The Darden Military Association (DMA) also plays an active role in helping students and their partners make the transition from public to private.

Learn more by joining one of our upcoming events hosted by the DMA:

Q: How did you decide that business school was the next step? What skills/gaps were you hoping to fill by pursuing your MBA?

A: When I was getting ready to get out of the Marines, I essentially had the “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up” moment all over again. I had a bunch of interests, but no clear direction. I knew I wanted to go back to school but kept bouncing between the idea of law school or a different grad school. The thing about the MBA program that appealed to me was that it was very open-ended. It seemed like it gave you resources and support to go after the new career you wanted, but also gave you the time to figure out if that was actually the best new career for you and explore other options.

I also spoke to a friend about her career in consulting, and the idea of a career where I didn’t have to do or be just one thing really appealed to me. So, I applied to Darden with the objective of using the MBA experience to get into management consulting.

Q: How did you land on Darden as your best fit?

A: I knew I wanted to come home to Virginia to be close to my family during school after being away for so much time, so location was a big factor. I also love trail running, hiking, and general outdoor adventure, and the Charlottesville area has so much of that. The thing that really sold me though was how supportive and uplifting everyone was. There was no sense of the zero-sum here. Everyone seemed eager to succeed but also to see their peers succeed. After each conversation with an admission counselor or student during the application process, I felt more excited and positive about the possibilities in front of me. I knew I wanted to be in an environment that made me feel like that on a daily basis.

Q: Could you share a little more about Darden Military Association and the community of veterans at Darden?

A: The support has been amazing. Hands down, DMA got me through consulting recruiting. So many Second Years took the time to run cases with me, answer my questions, and just generally help me through the stress. They helped me put my resume in plain English and convey my accomplishments during my time in the Marines when I was falling into the trap of speaking in military jargon that’s meaningless to most people. This sounds like a small thing but learning to talk about my accomplishments in a way that let my interviewers fully understand the context and outcomes was a game changer for my interviews. The club has so many resources and always seems to be working to add more. It’s a fantastic group of people.

Q: Advice for vets considering making the jump from public to private?

A: Don’t be afraid of making a big leap. If you’re a vet, you’ve already succeeded in at least one experience of being thrown into a totally new environment and adapting to it. You have an extremely valuable skillset, and probably don’t even realize the extent of it. I find a lot of vets downplay skills like public speaking, decision making under pressure and being proactive and instead focus on what they don’t know. The former skills are much harder and take more time to develop and have set you up to be successful in whatever you decide to do.

Q: Any advice for women vets specifically?

A: Join the Graduate Women in Business and attend their events!

Q: Favorite memory/experience from your first year?

A: The builds I did with Building Goodness in April. The DMA house for the spring build belonged to this wonderful man who worked with us while telling stories, and we ended up working on it over a few weekends since it needed some extensive repair. Mary Swan (Class of 2022) and I found out the YouTube is a great source of knowledge on things like how to apply stucco, and I felt like I was really giving back to the community in a way that I hadn’t made time for since college.

Q: What’s something that surprised you about Darden that you didn’t expect?

A: How student-driven the classes are. I knew it was case method, but still didn’t expect it to truly be driven by us as students. The professors really let students drive the discussions, and that means I’ve learned from my classmates as well as my professors.

Q: What do you love most about Charlottesville/Virginia?

A: The outdoors! If I have time, I can drive into the Shenandoah National Park to run/hike, but there are also so many trails within 15-20 minutes (and right behind Darden) that it’s always easy to get out into nature, even during the stressful recruiting season.

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