Nidhi Shah (Class of 2023) is one of 16 fellow Future Year Scholars who are now completing their first year at Darden. Shah is also pursuing a dual degree at the School of Data Science, and when she completes these simultaneous programs, she will have both MBA and MSDS degrees. She cites Darden’s location in Charlottesville as just one of the reasons she has been able to immerse in the community environment. Below, Shah shares insights on her Future Year Scholars journey, and First Year Darden experience.

Undergraduate School

New York University

Graduating Year


Q: What did you do between graduating from your undergraduate institution and joining Darden?

A: Prior to matriculating at Darden, I was an advisory consultant at Ernst & Young in their financial services practice, primarily working with large banks to help with strategic and digital business transformations.

Nidhi Shah, Class of 2023

Q: What’s your favorite part of your Darden experience now that you’re here on Grounds?

A: It’s hard to isolate one part of the program or experience because I think each part plays an integral role in making the experience what it is. But I’ve truly enjoyed the micro-communities that Darden has created to foster deeper relationships and the structure of the program. I’ve met some of my closest friends and found a support system that has been there for me. Coming from NYU, where the city and the campus are one, coming to Darden was enriching in so many ways where I’d run into my Professors at the grocery store and my section mates on train rides to Washington, D.C. While there is a lot that is thrown at you right off the bat – academically, socially and from a recruiting standpoint, it has made me grow more in 6 months that I could have ever anticipated. It all has really allowed me to reflect and learn more about myself in a way that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise, and I am really grateful for that.

Q: Favorite class/professor?

A: Strategic Thinking and Action with Jared Harris and Business Ethics with Bobby Parmar

Q: What advice do you have for someone thinking about applying to Darden’s Future Year Scholars Program?

A: Apply. Apply. Apply. There is no downside and it’s a great community to be a part of. Knowing that you have been accepted gives you so much freedom to try new things and explore without any fear.

Q: What advice do you have for students admitted to Darden’s Future Year Scholars Program?

A: Use this time to take risks and explore as much as you can. It’s so easy to lose track of time but try to find ways to understand what things may be of interest to you to better target what you hope to get from the MBA program. But most importantly, have fun! You’ve done the hard part – be sure to celebrate and soak in the experiences you are a part of leading up to matriculating – you earned it!

Q: How did you decide when was the right time to start your MBA?

A: While my job post-graduation was a great starting point and experience, I felt pigeon-holed in terms of the type of work I was doing and did not feel I was growing in the way I wanted to or having an impact in the way I wanted to.

Q: Did anything happen during your deferral period that reaffirmed your decision to stay on course to matriculate at Darden?

A: I was accepted to the Data Science program through the School of Data Science at University of Virginia which allowed me to partake in the dual degree program (to pursue my MBA and Master’s in Data Science). My interest in technology and consumer tech was increasing and the desire to have an impact was getting stronger by the day – knowing I had a seat at Darden, a top-ranked MBA school, eased the pressure and increased the excitement that I was one step closer to realizing my passion.

Q: How did you know that Darden would be the right fit for you after gaining a few years of work experience prior to matriculation?

A: From the beginning, my interactions with everyone from the administrative staff to faculty to students was very positive. Everyone was so warm and welcoming and willing to go the extra length to help. The emphasis was always on being your authentic self – something that I have seen to be true since matriculating at Darden. The sense of community is unlike any other and the extent of personalized attention is something that’s been very unique from the getting random treats in our mailboxes to getting Hershey’s Bars with messages customized to our personalities and the unique attributes we bring to Darden, it’s been incredible to be amongst so many intelligent and kind-hearted individuals.