Over 170 Darden First Years and several dozen alumni, faculty and staff recently gathered at the School’s DC Metro Grounds for a day of conversation and community-building. The UVA Darden DC Metro event was organized in partnership with the Career Center, Dean’s Office, Office of Engagement, and School colleagues from the Sands Family Grounds, and came on the heels of the recently announced UVA|NOVA strategic expansion. The day’s goals were to have students engage with the UVA Darden DC Metro network, to see and learn more about the DC area, spend time with classmates and reflect on their career and life aspirations together.

“We were thrilled to have so many students authentically and enthusiastically engage with the UVA Darden community in the DC region,” said Jeff McNish, assistant dean of the Career Center. “We look forward to presenting more opportunities that continue expanding the reach of our Sands Family Grounds.”

An Inaugural Visit to the Nation’s Capital for Some First Years

After arriving from Charlottesville via a quick two hour chartered bus ride, students enjoyed the crisp, early fall morning by riding on a scenic boat tour that featured vistas of the Potomac River. For some students, the tour was the first time they had the chance to see monuments and sights of the nation’s capital.

Students Engage with UVA Darden DC Metro

Casual Networking with DC Region Executives and Leaders

Following the boat tour, 15 executive leaders, business professionals, and recent Darden alumni from the DC area joined the students for lunch for casual conversations about their careers and informal networking with the students. Dean Scott Beardsley also joined attendees for lunch, and corporate guests shared their expertise from working at companies that included Amazon, BCG, Fortive, The Obama Foundation, McKinsey, Uber and more.

Career and Life Advice from Recent Darden and DC Area Alumni

Students then had the opportunity to participate and listen to career and life at Darden panels, which featured recent School alumni guests. Several panelists shared their responses to questions about their proudest accomplishments while at Darden and what advice they’d give to their former selves.

Rachel Southall (MBA ’20), who now works at M&T Bank, felt most proud of leaving behind the imposter syndrome she felt when she first began at Darden. She encouraged First Years to remember that Darden is a gift rather than a burden — an especially timely message as First Years dive deeper into the busy MBA internship recruiting season.

“Share what it is you love with others at Darden,” said Tre Tennyson (MBA ’21).

Tre Tennyson (MBA ’21), currently a McKinsey associate, prompted First Years to take time to explore and recognize that the stakes at Darden are relatively low. He asked students to share what they love with others at Darden. Tom Gonzalez (MBA ’19), North America retail lead for software company o9 Solutions, echoed Tre’s call for students to build more authentic relationships. Tom’s advice was to be intentional about building relationships with classmates from multiple diverse groups.

And finally, Catherine Aranda (MBA ’18), Obama Foundation senior associate, advised her First Year self to identify top-level learnings from her cases, rather than getting buried in details.

Rounding out the Day’s Events with a Rooftop Reception

To close out the day of conversation and community, over 30 alumni joined students, corporate guests, staff and faculty for a rooftop reception with the Sands Family Grounds’ signature sweeping vistas of the nation’s capital.

Explore more photos from the day’s events here.