Creating Career Opportunities for Students: Interview Forums

by Sydney Sfreddo

The Career Development Center at Darden strives to identify new job opportunities for students and avenues to form valuable career connections with employers beyond on-Grounds recruiting. On 17 February, Darden partnered with other top MBA programs to host the fifth annual MBA Interview Forum in New York City. Darden had 20 students interview at the forum.

The MBA Interview Forum draws in numerous employers to one central location for one day of interviews for internship and full-time job opportunities. There were 27 companies who attended, some of which included Arconic, Ernst & Young, McKesson and Siemens. “Getting to interview with so many great companies in one day and in one location was amazing. Instead of travelling all over the place, I was able to stay in one location and do in-person interviews with multiple companies that may not have recruited on-Grounds,” said Ali Recht, a First Year student, who participated in the event.

Another attribute that makes the interview forums unique is that the interview area is set up in a speed dating layout with interviews being conducted simultaneously next to each other. “I’d never done an interview in a room full of other people interviewing, but I actually liked it. It made the interviews feel less intense and more casual than when it’s just you and an interviewer in a quiet room together. I liked being able to chat with other students between interviews and it helped me relax. I was also able to compare notes and tips with people who were interviewing with the same companies as me,” said Recht.

New York City isn’t the only target city for these interview forums. Additional interview forums are held in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.

You can learn more about Darden’s Career Development Center on our website. 

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Meet Darden’s EMBA & GEMBA – Jess Ching, EMBA ’18

Much like our residential students, the students enrolled in the Executive Formats of the Darden MBA come from a wide variety of backgrounds, careers, goals, and interests. We have asked several of our EMBA and GEMBA students to answer a few questions about their MBA experiences, which we will post over the coming weeks. We hope you enjoy getting to know them, and if you have any additional questions about our Executive Formats, we encourage you to schedule a conversation with a member of our Admissions Committee.

Name: Jess Ching
City: Washington, DC
Employer: Raytheon Company
Years of Experience: 5
Format/Section: Rosslyn EMBA Class of 2018

1. What is your current job?
I currently work in Strategy Development for Raytheon Company’s Corporate Strategy office. Raytheon is a defense contractor in the Aerospace & Defense industry.  In this role, I help to develop company-wide strategies, analyze the Department of Defense (DoD) budget, perform competitor and Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) assessments, and develop strategy and global environment presentations for the Board of Directors and senior leadership.

2. Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
My undergraduate studies focused in the liberal arts. While I feel that education prepared me for several roles and provided a great foundation in areas such as critical thinking, writing , among several other skills, I knew that in order for me to continue accelerating my career within my company, I would need to strengthen my business finance understanding. I knew that a MBA would provide me with a solid basis on the mechanics of finance, operations, and accounting so that I could supplement my qualitative skills with more quantitative ones.  My next step in my career trajectory is to take on an International Program Manager role and being well-versed in financials will only make me more prepared and competitive for the position.

3. Why did you choose Darden?
I chose Darden immediately after I attended a class for prospective students. The one-hour class was a case study led by a Darden Marketing professor. Having never taken a Marketing class, I was excited by practical elements we were taught and even more impressed by the peers in the class who engaged in such a dynamic discussion. In just that short 60 minutes, I left feeling that I gained tremendous value—not just from the professor and the case we analyzed, but from the intellectual students surrounding me. I knew that Darden would provide me with an academically challenging environment in which my peers would also challenge me and add to my learning experience.  At Darden, there’s an emphasis on learning through your fellow classmates. You’re assigned smaller learning teams that act as real-life scenarios when you are placed into diverse groups and expected to produce team products / get each other through tough courses. It is the caliber of students and the highly collaborative learning environment that sealed the deal for me.

4. What attracted you to the executive formats of the Darden MBA?
The executive formats of Darden attracted me for two main reasons. First, the flexibility of the program allows me to continue accelerating my career while simultaneously completing a MBA. I am able to demonstrate to my business leaders and to myself that I can handle a challenging coursework while also continuing to perform at work. Secondly, I can immediately put into practice what I learn from my classes into my day-to-day job. When I see this happening, I can tell that I am receiving immediate value from the courses at Darden to be able to apply it to real situations in the office or in my personal life.

5. What’s your favorite thing about your classmates so far?
My favorite thing about my classmates is seeing how we are able to become such a closely knit unit in a quick amount of time besides coming from vastly different backgrounds and juggling the difficulties of balancing families, full-time jobs, and a full-time MBA. I’ve seen classmates go out of their way to provide additional tutoring to those who need it or help each other with job interviews or introductions for classmates trying to switch careers, companies, and industries. It is this camaraderie that has made me the most excited about the program. You realize very quickly that you cannot succeed alone on an island and your classmates become your Darden Lifeline. A special example was one time I needed to give a speech in front of my classmates. As someone who is terrified of public speaking, I faltered a little because of my nerves. However, my classmates cheered me on and got me to finish my presentation with a standing ovation. The Darden Family is not easily replicated.

6. What are you most excited about accomplishing/doing during the program?
I’m most excited about going to South Africa and India with my classmates. I think both countries are vastly different from one another, and I’m excited to see how business operates outside of the United States while also soaking up the culture, sights, and sounds of the foreign places. It will also be a different experience to see emerging markets in action and also understand how the country’s political environment plays a role in shaping industry.

7. What advice do you have for prospective students?
A MBA is a huge investment, both in terms of money and in time. Knowing this, make sure to find a program that’s the best fit for you. Take the time to go to the events hosted by Darden Admissions and meet current students, faculty, and alumni. Going to class visits and seeing the dynamics among the students will give you a better idea if this is the type of program/environment in which you will thrive. Ultimately, this decision is a highly personal one, but I found that any Darden student or alum will be willing to chat with you and help you with making the most informed decision you can make!

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From Idea to Startup in a Year: Rhoback

Darden is the No. 3 ranked program for entrepreneurship (Financial Times 2016) and Charlottesville is a fast-growing hub for venture capital and innovation, so it’s no surprise that many prospective students have dreams of launching their own ventures. But what does launching a venture at Darden really look like? In the below video, learn about Rhoback, a new men’s activewear company started by Darden students.

The founders of Rhoback didn’t wait until graduation from the Darden School of Business to start their company. Instead, they used the assets of the School and the i.Lab at UVA Incubator program to launch their “Under Armour meets Vineyard Vines” line of high-end active wear right away.

Watch: From Idea to Startup in a Year


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Get to Know UVA’s Sports and Recreation Offerings

By Whitney Kestner

In this year’s application, we referenced Charlottesville’s renowned film festival, book festival and vibrant music scene.  But did you know that we also have incredible sports and recreational activities? Whether you want to be a spectator or would prefer to jump in to the action, you’ll be sure to find something since the University of Virginia is known for abundant recreational opportunities.

The University of Virginia boasts 25 NCAA Division I sports and since 2002, our teams have won 69 Atlanta Coast Conference (ACC) Championships! Most notably the men’s soccer, men’s tennis and baseball teams each won the NCAA championships during the 2014-2015 academic year.

If you love watching college sports, we have a seat for you! Darden students are within walking distance of the baseball diamond, the lacrosse and soccer fields and John Paul Jones Area where you can catch the men’s and women’s basketball teams (plus some pretty great live music).  In fact, we host the Duke Blue Devils Wednesday night – go Hoos!

If you want to get in on the action, Darden students enjoy competing on the soccer and softball fields as well as the basketball courts through intramural sports and the Darden Cup, which is a yearlong competition among the student sections. Put your skills to the test as you try to bring home the win for your section!

A quick drive from the Darden Grounds you will find the Birdwood Golf Course which is a favorite among lifelong golfers and beginners alike.  Darden students also have access to the University’s tennis courts, pools and gyms including the Aquatic and Fitness Center and North Grounds Recreation Center (which is mere steps from the Darden classrooms).

Do you prefer group exercise? There are numerous fitness studios close to where our students live. Students enjoy walking to yoga, Pure Barre and cycling studios.  There is also a Darden running club that meets a couple of times of week on the front steps of Saunders Hall to get their workout in before classes begin!

And of course we can’t forget the beautiful scenery around us – nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, students will find no shortage of trails to hike and bike. Student favorites include Humpback Rock, Old Rag, and Crabtree Falls.

Charlottesville and UVA have so much to offer, no matter how you prefer to spend your spare time. We hope you will visit us soon to experience all of this first-hand!

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Meet Darden’s EMBA & GEMBA – Christine McLean, EMBA ’18

Much like our residential students, the students enrolled in the Executive Formats of the Darden MBA come from a wide variety of backgrounds, careers, goals, and interests. We have asked several of our EMBA and GEMBA students to answer a few questions about their MBA experiences, which we will post over the coming weeks. We hope you enjoy getting to know them, and if you have any additional questions about our Executive Formats, we encourage you to schedule a conversation with a member of our Admissions Committee.

EMBA Student Christine McLean

Name: Christine McLean
City: Alexandria, VA
Employer: United States Air Force
Section/Format: EMBA/Charlottesville

  1. Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

As a veteran, a mom, and a woman who wants to lead an organization, I viewed business education as an essential step to building an impactful career.  Although I’ve had quite a bit of leadership experience, I lacked the knowledge of finance, accounting, and general business management that are needed in the private sector.  There is no perfect time in life to get an MBA, and even though I have a lot of major life events going on, I ultimately decided to simply take the first step and make it work.

  1. Why did you choose Darden?

The Darden EMBA program perfectly suits my priorities and accommodates the competing demands in my life.  As a mother of small children, I value every minute spent with family.  My most valuable asset is time, and the structure of this program maximized my family time, while offering a top-ranked program taught by world-class faculty.  I was also impressed by the incredible cohort of females in the class who want to lead and take on new challenges in business.  I have always believed that if you want to improve, you have to surround yourself with people that can elevate you, and there is no better place for that than Darden.

  1. You just had a baby. What was it like having a child in the first couple months of the program? How did you balance the demands of being a new mom with school, work, etc.?

Starting the program while 9-months pregnant was challenging – no doubt.  However, all parents have to be masterful at prioritizing time and effort.  For me, this was just amplified by the addition of a new baby in the first semester of classes.  I have had a lot of help from a very supportive spouse, family, friends, and my learning team, who have all been incredibly helpful whenever asked.  The faculty have also been incredibly gracious and understanding that students have families, work demands, and lives outside of the program, all while expecting the same level of commitment to the program as the full-time students.

  1. What’s your favorite thing about your classmates so far?

They are an incredible source of inspiration.  They come from such impressive backgrounds and have amazing experiences and insights.  We all have so much going on in our lives, but everyone is making it work and is so energetic and happy to be a part of the class.  Our diverse experiences make class discussion insightful, thought-provoking, and motivating.

  1. What’s your favorite thing about the program so far?

My classmates and the opportunity to learn a completely new skillset directly from the best professors in the country.

  1. What advice do you have for moms considering pursuing their executive MBA?

There is never an ideal time to pursue an MBA.  If you want to make this a priority, commit to the program and work with your family and loved ones to develop a plan to make it work.  You will have to be creative to manage your time, but the program will benefit you and your family for a long time to come.  This is an investment in your education, and you are well worth it.

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Darden Worldwide Course: Data Science and Technology in India 2017

By Kristen Egan, Associate Director of Admissions

Last month, a group of students from Darden’s Full-Time MBA format had the opportunity to experience India’s vibrant culture while digging deeper into the challenges of doing business in this developing country. The group was comprised of First Year and Second Year students and mirrored Darden’s global community with students coming from Brazil, Ghana, Guatemala, Japan, Korea, and the United States.

While the Darden Worldwide Course focused on data science and technology and the role these disciplines play, students received a much broader perspective on business in India and its impact on commerce across the globe. “I think the biggest takeaway for students was the opportunity to see India’s thriving entrepreneurial spirit and to gain a better understanding of the complexity of demographics throughout the country – a country that is ranked 130th in terms of ease of doing business, “ said Casey Lichtendahl, faculty lead for the course.

Throughout the week students had the opportunity to hear from top executives at Nasscom’s Startup Warehouse, Walmart e-Commerce, Coca Cola, Times of India, EXL Service and the U.S. Embassy. Additionally, Darden alumni and entrepreneurs at Integra Connect, ZipGo and shared detailed insight on their companies and how their Darden experience has contributed to their success. Cultural visits throughout the week included the Taj Mahal, a Hindu temple and the Red Fort in Agra, and Humayun’s Tomb, a museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi and a Sikh temple in Delhi.

Students from both the full-time and Global Executive MBA formats reconvened in Delhi for case discussions and were welcomed by VN Dalmia D’84 and Alumni Chapter President Akash Premsen D’08 to the Dalmia House for a networking reception with Darden alumni, faculty, and recently admitted and prospective students.

Second Year student Sarah Grothaus reflected, “While Darden consistently encourages us to be globally-minded, this trip illuminated the fact that there’s truly no substitute for witnessing and experiencing a culture on the ground, person-to-person. I was blown away by the forward-looking spirit and innovative ideas that India has to offer, and our trip gave me great insight into both the challenges and opportunities inherent in doing business here.”

Darden students hear from Guarav Agarwal D’10, Co-Founder of ZipGo – a smart bus app aiming to change the urban commute.

Darden students learn about India’s thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem at Nasscom’s Startup Warehouse.

DWC India group enjoying Tandoor-cooked Indian dishes at Bukhara in Delhi.

Darden students hear from Jitendra Gupta D’08, President of Global Operations at Integra Connect.

Darden students at the Red Fort in Agra.

Darden students at the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Darden students jumping in to help at the Community Kitchen at Gurudwara Bangla Sahib in Delhi.

Darden students hear from Darden alum Alok Vaish D’97, CFO of travel site

Darden students visiting Gurudwara Bangla Sahib – a Sikh house of worship.

This post originally appeared on Darden’s Global Voices blog.

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2017 Future Year Admissions Application Now Live

Greetings from Darden!

We are pleased to announce that the application for our Future Year Admissions Program is now live. Designed for those of you in your final year of undergraduate study or for those in a fifth year Masters program, this is a great opportunity for you to apply to Darden now, but defer admission for two, three, or four years while you gain professional experience.

The application deadline is 1 May 2017. For more information, please visit our website.

We hope to see your application soon!

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A Note on Application Requirements

For those of you working on your Round 2 application in advance of the 9 January deadline, we would like to remind you that Darden does not require an official transcript or an official copy of your GMAT or GRE score report in order to submit your application. Official copies will be required upon enrollment, but you may submit an unofficial copy in your application.

If you have other questions about requirements or are unsure of how to approach a section of the application, we encourage you to watch Admissions Dean Sara Neher’s application tips videos, which cover topics ranging from resumes to what to do after you submit your application. Still can’t find the answer? Email us.

We look forward to reading your applications!

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Darden’s Round 2 Application Deadline is Monday, 9 January 2017

Darden’s Round 2 Application for the Full-Time MBA program is due Monday, 9 January 2017.

For general questions about the application, please email

If you are experiencing technical difficulties, please first log out and then log back in and try again. If this does not work, please email We will get back to you as soon as possible.

Good luck to all of our Round 2 Applicants! We look forward to reading your applications.

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Meet Darden’s EMBA and GEMBA: Laura Pettus, GEMBA ’18

Much like our residential students, the students enrolled in the Executive Formats of the Darden MBA come from a wide variety of backgrounds, careers, goals, and interests. We have asked several of our EMBA and GEMBA students to answer a few questions about their MBA experiences, which we will post over the coming weeks. We hope you enjoy getting to know them, and if you have any additional questions about our Executive Formats, we encourage you to schedule a conversation with a member of our Admissions Committee.

GEMBA student Laura Pettus


Name: Laura M. Pettus
City: Washington, DC
Employer: U.S. Department of Commerce/National Telecommunications and Information Administration
Years of Experience: 15 years
Format/Section: GEMBA/Rosslyn

  1. What is your current job?
    I’m a Deputy Associate Administrator within the federal government. I have spent years establishing and managing programs dedicated to public safety communications and broadband. More recently, I’ve been focusing my time on managing the day-to-day operations of our division: supervising staff, leading hiring actions, managing contracts, and developing budgets.
  2. Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
    I am looking for a change outside of the federal government. Not knowing exactly what will be my next step, I wanted to get some additional business knowledge to help translate my federal experience to the private sector.
  3. Why did you choose Darden?
    I applied to several schools and ultimately it came down a decision between Darden and another school. The Darden location and format fit better with my work-life-school balance.
  4. What attracted you to the executive formats of the Darden MBA?
    Two things attracted me to the executive format. First, I’ve been working full-time for almost 20 years, and the thought of learning from other experienced executives was appealing to me. Second, after weighing the opportunity cost of exiting the workforce for two years, the math just didn’t work.
  5. What’s your favorite thing about your classmates so far?
    My classmates are intelligent, diverse, engaging, and fun.  We bonded instantly and after only a week, I now have a whole new support system of people that will be on this journey with me.
  1. What are you most excited about accomplishing/doing during the program?  
    I’m really excited about the international travel of the GEMBA format and learning about business from a global, multi-cultural perspective with on-the-ground experiences.
  2. What advice do you have for prospective students?
    There is never going to be the ‘right time’ to work full-time and go to school full-time. The Executive MBA is a major commitment of time and money, but investing in yourself and in your growth are precious gifts.
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