First Year Mercedes Campbell (Class of 2023), has plunged into the Darden community — serving as a gender equity representative for Section B, staying busy with the Black Business Student Association and Darden Africa Business Organization and winning Cornell’s Women in Investing (WIN) Stock Pitch competition along with fellow First Year teammates Sukari Brown and Fanny Mei. Campbell commented on the team’s the success on LinkedIn, “Being on team with two other women of color helped me take the leap and compete. Representation matters. If you’re afraid to pursue something go for it anyway!”
Campbell is also member of Darden’s Consortium cohort, a Forté Fellow and was recently announced as an Impact Fellow. She shared insights into her Darden experience, including perspectives on the classroom, community and career opportunities.
Q: Tell us a little more about your Pre-Darden background:
A: Pre-Darden, I was a technology consultant with Accenture Federal – working to bring the U.S. government into the 21st century. I was a Salesforce Admin and worked on a scrum team to release new application features every 3 weeks. I was also part of DC’s Women in Tech, Salesforce User group.
I served as a mentor to a 16-year-old high school student as part of my work with the non-profit, Capital Partners for Education. I was actually a mentee while in high school and maintained a relationship with the organization over the years.
Q: Where will you be interning this summer?
A: I am following the opportunities, and will be interning at Credit Suisse as an Investment Banking Associate in the Technology Group. The internship is a great opportunity because it lets me stay within the Technology industry and will be challenging.
Q: What section were you in? What section traditions were your favorite?
A: I am in section B. I love wearing orange/Hawaiian shirts on Thursdays —it definitely helps with school/section pride! Orange is one of UVA’s colors, so that’s also pretty convenient.
Q: What is your relationship with the faculty? And your learning team?
A: The faculty really love what they do and which inspires us to push past our perceived boundaries. I love how Marketing professor Tami Kim would have us restate our rambling answers succinctly, which is good practice for the real world. Last quarter we had a diverse faculty which I think made me feel even more comfortable forming relationships with them. This quarter we have not had as diverse a group of faculty, but myself and some of my classmates mentioned this issue to the program team, and next quarter is shaping up to be more balanced.
My learning team is awesome! We spend far too much time chatting and laughing. I also love my learning team’s patience as some of us who are new to the quant-heavy subjects need a bit more time to work through the cases.
Q: How is the case method preparing you for your future career? What’s it like in the classroom?
A: Cases are challenging and time-consuming but, it makes me feel less anxious about my upcoming internship. I’m new to finance and had never seen a financial statement before Darden. By the time I get to my internship, I will be very well versed! It also helps to know a little bit about so many companies, many of which some of us will work for one day.
Q: Describe the career support you’ve received so far and how it’s helped you make decisions about your recruiting:
A: I worked with Career Coaches Jenny Zenner and Ed Yu over the summer while recruiting. They helped me weigh the pros and cons of accepting my internship offer, including the financials and the lifestyle considering my partner. I was super apprehensive about it but they helped me realize the point of an internship – try something new.
Q: You had your summer internship offer secured before you came to Darden! How did that work?
A: As a Forté Fellow, I participated in Forté’s annual leadership conference in June. Credit Suisse was in attendance and sent out an email to conference participants concerning their Pre-MBA Diversity Advancement Program. I applied to the technology group on a whim and to my surprise was accepted into the program! The month-long program also matched us with a mentor. Truthfully, participating was challenging as I was still working full time, preparing for the move to Charlottesville, and taking Coursera courses in preparation for “Darden Before Darden.”
Q: What activities/organizations are you involved in?
A: I’m Section B’s Gender Equity representative so I participate pretty regularly with Graduate Women In Business events, and help promote Allies for Gender Equity. I also participate in the Black Business Student Association and Darden African Business Organization events, and was even part of the planning committee for the upcoming Darden African conference. I also participate in the Darden Capital Management Club where my team of two other Darden women recently competed in Cornell’s WIN Stock Pitch competition (and won). I also held a golf club for the first time with Darden’s chapter of the Lady Tees through some beginner golf lessons that were offered.
Q: How have you found community at Darden?
A: Outside of Consortium and the clubs I participate in, I also have community in my carpool with a few other Black women. We meet early in the morning to review cases and chat on the way to class. It’s a great way to start our day. I also like hanging out with the women of my section. As Gender Equity rep, I have hosted a few events including a wine night and a visit to the Halo Salt Spa. It was so nice and relaxing and I hope to host more events when the ladies have more time post-recruiting!
Q: Advice or Pro Tips for prospective students considering an MBA?
A: I highly recommend following the smallest inkling of curiosity. Just show up to the event, just respond to the email or submit the application. You never know what can come of it or the people you will meet.