As the first quarter came to a close, over 100 Darden students, alumni and staff came together for a day of discovery, inspiration and networking. Hosted by the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Technology, in collaboration with the Darden Technology Club and the Career Center, the First Annual Darden DC Tech Connect, brought tech enthusiasts, industry leaders and Darden alumni together to help students navigate the diverse world of tech careers.


The day began bright and early in Charlottesville as students boarded buses with bagels in hand to head up to Northern Virginia. Thanks to the strong Darden alumni network in the DC region, students were given the opportunity to visit Amazon HQ2 and Microsoft in Arlington. The tour of Amazon HQ2 began with an informal panel offering an insider’s perspective on what it takes to be a successful Amazonian. This set the stage for a walking tour of the campus that ended with bananas from their Community Banana Stand – you read that right!

At Microsoft, students were treated to previews of new AI tools and innovations that are still in development, plus an insightful panel from Darden alum.

The tours of these facilities and the informative alumni panels left everyone eager to dive deeper into the possibilities of a future in technology.


Following the company tours, DC Tech Connect kicked off in earnest back at Darden DC Sands Family Grounds. The first session was a one-on-one chat with Conor Sibley (MBA ’06), CTO of Association Analytics, moderated by Omar Garriott, Executive Director of the Batten Institute. They explored the whys and hows of Conor’s career trajectory and examined the current tech landscape. In essence, what challenges and opportunities are graduates facing in the tech space today?

A series of panel discussions rounded out the day, including a panel moderated by Professor Michael Lenox on the Future of Technology featuring Megan Vorland (MBA ’16), Fareed Melham (MBA ’10) and Jake Castillo (EMBA ’22). Their collective healthcare and government industry experience brought a fresh perspective to the conversation surrounding the possibilities and implications of implementing AI.


For students looking at internship opportunities and shifting into tech from a non-technology background, the panel Navigating Tech Careers Panel moderated by Anna Fife, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Batten Institute and MBA ’14, offered the career stories of two successful Darden graduates, Angelica Alam (MBA ’14) and Audrey Goldman Barressi (MBA ’14). They both emphasized the importance of staying true to yourself and building and nurturing strong relationships. One especially helpful nugget of wisdom was offered to the students by Alam, “You guys are all business leaders and will change some part of the world so stay open. It could be banking today, it could be tech tomorrow. Being open to the possibility of it looking different than what it was ingrained in you growing up, is vital.”

To help our students wrap their minds around all the possibilities of a career in technology, the final sessions featured a diverse set of alumni who shared their experiences in product, finance and management roles at renowned tech companies. Thanks to Alyssa Apolonio (MBA ’17), Paloma Bengoechea (MBA ’18), Sam Kramer (MBA ’18), Natalie Dudhat (MBA ’20), Tom Connor (MBA ’22), Ben Leiner (MBA ’19) and Kyle Galle (MBA ’16) for your contributions.


The event concluded with a rooftop networking event where Darden alumni from the DC area mingled with students and panelists. It was capped off with a special visit from Interim Dean Jeanne Liedtka.


This event is yet another opportunity for Darden students to experience a taste of company culture and gain insight into industry as they embark on their recruitment journeys. It is especially beneficial for those students unable to join the Tech Trek, a three-day West Coast trip organized by the Career Center in partnership with the Darden Technology Club. This year’s Tech Trek visited Meta, Google, Adobe, Electronic Arts, Autodesk, Salesforce, Walmart, Yelp, Visa, Expedia, Uber, Starbucks and more.

For students pursuing a career in Investment Banking, the Career Center supports the Week on Wall Street visiting numerous banks in New York City. Additionally, the Career Center supports Darden Student Clubs in arranging job treks and alumni presentations at a variety of companies including Anheuser-Busch, the Carlyle Group, BXP, Greystar, Clark Construction and others.