Find Out How Darden Career Link Can Help You Manage Your Career

Are you seeking a new position? Looking to hire a Darden alumnus?

If your answer is yes to either question, it’s time for you to take advantage of Darden Career Link (DCL) powered by GradLeaders. In an effort to better serve our students and alumni, Darden’s Career Development Center and Alumni Career Services adopted the new job board platform in April of this year.

For alumni who are seeking, Darden Career Link offers you the opportunity to see not only jobs posted specifically for Darden graduates, but also all jobs posted to Gradleaders’ MultiPost network. According to GradLeaders, over 600,000 recruiters at over 100,000 companies have used its product. Upload your resumes, create detailed profiles and make your accounts active so you can be searchable by those recruiters — choose to remain anonymous by selecting the confidentiality option in your profile summary.

DCL also offers you the opportunity to set up customized email alerts for particular types of postings.  Find detailed instructions and FAQs on your dashboard when you log in. If you haven’t logged in yet, go to DCL, and type in your email address in the field next to “Find My Account.” If you have a DCL account associated with that email address, you will receive an email with the reset password link. If you are unsuccessful, then your email address likely needs to be updated. Reach out to Alumni Career Services for assistance.

If you are an employer who is seeking to hire a Darden alum, you can post your position to DCL, designating that it only be viewed by Darden alumni. Or you could pay for the MultiPost service, which allows you to distribute your posting across GradLeaders entire network simultaneously. You can filter your posts by geography, by school or by matching resumes using customized filters. To post a job for Darden alumni, access DCL here. To post to the MultiPost network, go here.

Whether you are an alumnus or a recruiter, if you need any assistance, please contact Alumni Career Services.

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Should You Quit Before Finding a New Job?

Do you dread going to work every day? Sometimes a job turns out to be truly miserable – a destructive company culture, an infuriating boss, overwhelming hours or travel, a re-org that marginalizes your role…..these are just a few of the things that can turn a once promising job into your daily dose of dread. That’s a sure sign that you need to move on.

Should you heed the oft-repeated advice that it’s easier to find a job while employed? It’s true that many recruiters have a bias against the unemployed, especially if the gap is long-term (generally considered to be 6 months or longer). Marketable skills grow stale quickly, so most career advisors caution against quitting before landing a new role elsewhere.

But, finding a new job is a time-consuming and often daunting task. Most business professionals understand that a successful job search entails lots of networking, targeting a specific set of companies, and being patient through multiple rounds of interviews that can drag on for weeks.

So, before resigning, make sure you’ve fully considered every possible way to alleviate some of your dissatisfaction – have a candid talk with your boss, pursue a different role or lateral move, take on a new project – do whatever you can to proactively address your situation before cutting ties.

At the same time, be realistic about what cannot be changed. There are circumstances that will inevitably lead to parting. For example, if you’re in a fairly senior role and no longer see eye-to-eye with the board or leadership about the company’s direction, or you’ve encountered an ethical challenge you can’t overcome. It could be that your life situation has changed, and the structure of the job just doesn’t fit any longer.

After considering your alternatives and circumstances, you may decide that quitting ahead of a new job is the right decision……if that’s the case, be better prepared by coming to terms with these issues:

1)   Are you prepared for the boss to “show you the door”?  Most people give a couple weeks’ notice and offer to assist with a transition. However, some execs don’t want your presence after a resignation. While an abrupt departure is probably not your expectation, it does sometimes happen, so think through the various scenarios. To ensure a smooth departure, consult our ACS Career Management Resignation checklist.

2)  Can you reasonably explain your exit when networking or in future interviews? You will be asked about your departure, so best to anticipate how to put a positive spin on the situation. There’s no need to air your grievances against a former employer. You should succinctly explain how you arrived at your decision to leave and then turn the conversation towards the skills you want to bring to your next role.

3)  Can you offer a reference from someone in the company you’re exiting? It doesn’t necessarily have to be the boss. Ask a trusted colleague if he’ll consider a future reference should the need arise. That way, you can signal to prospective employers that others will vouch for your performance.

4)  How will you spend your time after the exit? Our ACS data shows that on average it takes about 6 months to land a new job. It’s unrealistic and somewhat debilitating to spend 40 hours a week on search activities. You will need a constructive and targeted search plan to land well, but remember that a transition is also a good opportunity to pursue things you haven’t had time for, like taking a course, getting a certification, or furthering your skills in some way. Volunteering or joining a board can also be both fulfilling and great networking. Also, think about how you might engage in short term project work, especially if the search stretches on for weeks. Our Independent Consulting page has a number of tips.

5)  What are your salary requirements? This question is asked by nearly every recruiter and often very early in the screening process; leaving a job can put you in a more vulnerable position when negotiating your next salary, so do your homework early and understand what a reasonable range of salary is for your targeted role.

If you need help mapping your way out of a dreaded job, Darden’s Alumni Career Services is here to help!

By Marty Speight, D96

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Get More Out of LinkedIn With the Find Alumni Tool

In modern day networking, there is no tool more popular than LinkedIn. Its popularity is what makes LinkedIn so powerful — nowhere else do people keep their professional information more current or complete. Users want to be found on LinkedIn and, in turn, they are easy to find. If you are looking to network with Darden alumni, or perhaps alumni from your undergraduate institution, follow these simple steps:

  1. On the LinkedIn home page, type “Darden” in the search field at the top – but don’t hit Enter yet! Let a drop down list populate below.
  2. From the drop-down list, select:

3. Click on the See alumni button:

You’ve arrived! From here, you can use the filters and search fields to target highly specific groups of people.

Click on the blue bars to filter alumni by, for example, geography (“Where they live”) or functional area of expertise (“What they do”). As you click, you’ll see the other filters adjust and the search return of matching alumni will update below.

If you are looking for something not represented by the filters, such as a title, use the search field at the top to enter the title, then use the filters as needed.

Give it a try! Look for entrepreneurs in Seattle. Look for CFOs in Boston. See anyone you know? You will notice on many of the thumbnails below the filters that you have “connections in common” — ask for an introduction.

Go ahead, put that powerful Darden network to use.

If you have questions or would like personalized guidance on how to use LinkedIn to approach networking, please reach out to Alumni Career Services.

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Land Your Next Role Internally – This Alumnus Did

A significant source of company hiring happens within. It pays to be aware of your employer’s internal process and culture around hiring and promotions. This month, the Armstrong Center for Alumni Career Services interviews Jon Fraade (MBA ’84), managing director at JPMorgan Chase & Co., regarding his recent experience landing a significant new role at the bank.  

Jon, first please tell about the role you just landed, COO, and how that fits in the bank’s structure.

I’ve been appointed the chief operating officer of our retirement plan investment group.  This group sits within our chief investment officer/global treasury team, and is responsible for the investment of about $60 billion in retirement and benefit assets that relate to JPMorgan’s own employees.

You’ve successfully navigated through both internal and external job searches, what are the biggest differences, and similarities, between the two types of job search? 

Most important in either situation is the quality of your network of contacts and the reputation you have built. It is very important to do your homework, have a clear understanding of what you are interested in doing and know everything you can about the position and team with whom you are speaking.

The big difference is the road to success.  Internally, your quality is known and you should be able to more quickly decide if the fit is right. Externally, there are often many more hurdles to navigate and the challenge is to get your CV to the top of the pile. Critical to this is the quality of your network and ability to identify people who can effectively speak to your strengths.

Were the typical marketing materials of search — resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile — useful in an internal search?  Did they differ?

They are important, but less important than in an external search. LinkedIn is critical in all cases. In addition, a current and well-written profile on JPMorgan’s intranet site was crucial for me. However, each search is different and you cannot be too well prepared. So I was always ready with a full set of relevant marketing materials. The Armstrong Center was very helpful to me in preparing these.

Can you give other alumni some ideas for how to identify the best roles internally?

Don’t be hesitant, if the culture permits, to express an interest in making a job change.

Always be networking and actively follow-up on leads. Ask your primary contacts to introduce you to people whom you would like to meet if you feel that would be better than reaching out directly. My experience is that everyone is willing to meet, especially if you are willing to do so when it’s convenient for them. Your contacts may be aware of available positions before they are publically posted; this will give you an advantage in your search efforts.

It is also worthwhile to watch for formally posted positions. It’s very easy to remain focused on the job that you are in; but spending 10–15 minutes a week looking at other internal positions is valuable to both you and your employer.

How do you approach networking internally at your firm?

I have always had an interest in others; so networking is an extension of this interest. If I am in a meeting with someone who does something interesting, I will often reach out and invite them for coffee or lunch to get to know them better. Or, I’ll stop by their desk and chat. Having a genuine interest in others is key.

What if you get tapped for a new role, but you’re not sure it’s a good fit?  On the other hand, what if you want to go for a new role, but your current manager is not supportive?

Both are great questions. It’s important to acknowledge that there is risk in both changing positions and staying in the same position. For example, your manager can change. In terms of fit, it is helpful to have as many formal and informal conversations about the new position as you can. It is always easier to withdraw from the process before you get the offer.

A non-supportive manager is a challenge as your new manager will likely look to your current manager for a reference. First, I would suggest trying to better understand the lack of support.  Try to self-assess the situation. Maybe it’s because you play a critical role and your transition would create a void that will be difficult to fill. After self-assessing, consider having a direct conversation with your manager or speaking with someone in HR to get their advice about the best way to proceed.

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The Art of Introducing Yourself

When you have an interview, you know the request is coming in some form or another. Usually right out of the gate. “Tell me about yourself.” “Walk me through your resume.” “Tell me about your background.” When you have an interview, you typically have plenty of time to think about, prepare, and practice your answer. We often work with clients to help them craft the perfect two-minute pitch.

But, what about all the other times that you “tell [someone] about yourself?” At a networking event, a reunion, a cocktail party, your kid’s soccer game? The request is rarely so formal, and although your response will be a whole lot shorter, it is arguably equally important. After all, it is often your network that refers you to the best jobs. Do the people that know you get what you are about? Do they know what you do? Will you come to mind when someone else in their network mentions they are looking for someone to fill your dream job?

So, what do you do?

Did you pause? Have to think about it? Is your response more than one sentence? Would the question-asker be bored or confused by your response?

Remember to always keep your response brief and in layman’s terms. If your listener doesn’t understand you, or if they are bored, they won’t ask questions. You want your listener to ask you questions – that means they are engaged and more likely to remember your message. For more tips and ideas, check out this pithy article that gives some great templates for a perfectly simple answer to this perfectly simple question.

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Could a ‘Career Boomerang’ Be Right for You? One Darden Alumna Shares Her Story

Katherine Brownson (MBA ’12) shares her career experience of returning to work for a former employer in the following guest post to the Armstrong Center for Alumni Career Services’ Career Corner blog.

As I pressed the elevator button for the eighth floor, I glanced around to my fellow riders to see if I recognized anyone. It was just a matter of time until I ran into someone who would possibly question what I was doing in the building.

Coming out of Darden, I never imagined spending more than two years at a Fortune 500 company. Prior to Darden, I’d worked at startups with an average employee base hovering around 25 people. At first, my goal at DaVita was to get a big company name on my resume and gain experience that I could apply to a startup endeavor. As I settled in to the post-MBA world, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed my job and big company life. I was surrounded by intelligent, motivated people who pushed me to learn and grow while in an environment with resources I could never dream of in startup world.

After three years in a hybrid operations and finance role, I transitioned to DaVita’s corporate strategy team. I knew quickly the role wasn’t a good fit. I didn’t enjoy the consulting style of work and being further removed from the nuts and bolts of DaVita’s core business. I was unfulfilled. For the first time, I felt uncertain of my path ahead within the company. I broached the subject with my immediate boss, but her recommendations and subsequent career path conversations didn’t motivate or excite me. When an opportunity to join an early stage startup arose, I jumped at the chance to make a change.

My DaVita team wasn’t terribly shocked when I gave my two-weeks notice. I truly believe my co-workers were supportive of my decision to leave. I finished my final two weeks committed and positive. I told people honestly that I was leaving with mixed emotions. I’d grown so much personally and professionally and developed lasting friendships. Yet, I needed to see what else was out there. During my exit interview with the head of my group, I shared my honest opinion of the company and my team — the good and not-so-good — and left with a smile.

I didn’t vet the startup company as thoroughly as I should have. The strategic direction of the company was somewhat fluid across the multiple conversations I’d had with the founders. I convinced myself that was okay when I should have pushed harder to understand their vision at the onset. For numerous reasons, I knew it wasn’t a lasting situation for me. I chastised myself for making a hasty move, and yet, I knew exactly why I had.

As I’ve done in numerous other situations, I sought advice from Darden Alumni Career Services. When the initial suggestion of returning to DaVita was floated, I laughed.

After a few days and lots of deliberation, I began to warm to the idea. Would they have me back? What if I could go back into a role that fit me better? I liked the organization. I enjoyed the challenges of health care and having an impact of patient care. It seemed like a pretty straightforward decision with one major exception: my pride.

I began reaching out to mentors, both at DaVita and elsewhere. Everyone had their opinion about my next move, but, ultimately, it came down to my choice. It didn’t take long for word to get out at DaVita that I might be back in the job market. The positive response I received from former DaVita co-workers about a possible return abated the fears I had of bruising my professional pride.

After a few initial discussions, I felt fortunate to have a couple of warm opportunities available back at DaVita. I was determined this go-around to ensure it was the right role, right team and right boss for me. I ultimately narrowed my interest to a director of strategy position with one of DaVita’s smaller business units, Lifeline Vascular Access. Lifeline’s smaller size and challenging external environment due to changing regulations made it feel more entrepreneurial than other areas of DaVita, plus I liked that the role had a closer tie to operations.

Despite knowing many of the individuals at Lifeline, I went through the same formal interview process as everyone else. I submitted my resume, spoke to recruiters and interviewed with the team. I’ve realized that interviewing is a two-way engagement. It’s necessary to be critical and recognize when something feels right, or not. Meeting my now boss solidified my decision to accept the role if offered. And when the offer came, I knew I was making a sound decision.

Seven months after leaving DaVita with a box of belongings in my hands, I walked back into the building to assume my new role, a bit apprehensive, but excited.

It’s been four months since that day, and I’m still very happy with my decision.

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Winter – A Great Time for Reflection and a Good Read

Been looking for a good read in the self-help genre? Check out these books reported on by our Armstrong Center for Alumni Career Services coaches:

Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

Last fall, an alumnus I met in Seattle recommended, rightly, that I read Ego is the Enemy. The author, Ryan Holiday, who at an early age found ego to be his enemy, demonstrates the ways in which ego is a great limiter in the various cycles of one’s career: during aspiration, during success and during failure. By sharing the stories of past and present fallen heroes whose egos sealed their fate, Holiday holds up the proverbial mirror, forcing you as his reader to reflect on your own ego and how it impedes your progress. He also gives refreshing examples of leaders whose humility, service-orientation and resilience enable great success. I derived many takeaways both personally and as a coach:

Never stop learning. You are never done. You are never entitled to sit back. “…updating your appraisal of your talents in a downward direction is one of the most difficult things to do in life — but it is almost always a component of mastery.”

Help yourself by helping others. Don’t worry about getting the credit; let others have it. “[You will] develop a reputation for being indispensable [and] have countless new relationships [and] an enormous bank of favors to call upon.” Be a team player. Holiday quotes soccer coach Tony Adams: “play for the name on the front of the jersey and they’ll remember the name on the back.”

Know what is important to you. Know why you do what you do so you can ignore what doesn’t matter. “Find out why you’re after what you’re after. Ignore those who mess with your pace. Let them covet what you have, not the other way around. Because that is independence.”

Failure does not define who you are as a person. It’s the way you handle failure that defines you. Take responsibility and admit you messed up. “[Don’t] throw good money and good life after bad and end up making everything so much worse.”

And my favorite…

“Perfecting the personal regularly leads to success as a professional, but rarely the other way around.”

Reviewed by Jen Coleman


Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

“If you are successful, you will be happy.” Designing Your Life dispels this success myth and offers a design-thinking framework to guide us in building our ways toward meaningful careers and fulfilled lives. The book grew out of the Stanford course where Burnett and Evans teach the concepts of design as applied to the question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” Reframing this notion of an endpoint is key to the work of design — accepting and embracing that a happy life is constantly evolving and there is no one right path.

The approach begins with a very simple self-assessment, then builds a guiding compass through answering a set of thoughtful questions about your views on life and work, develops a lot of possibilities, adapts those into some real alternatives, then explores the alternatives by asking good questions and creating new experiences. Methods like brainstorming and prototyping are applied to our life and career paths, and we’re encouraged to practice designer mindsets:  curiosity (seeing opportunity everywhere), bias toward action (trying lots of stuff), reframing (confronting and changing dysfunctional beliefs), awareness (focus on the process, not the outcome) and collaboration (asking for help).

Designing Your Life has excellent advice for anyone struggling to find meaningful and satisfying work.  The authors present an actionable framework and also expose the inherent flaws in traditional job search, presenting a compelling case that a well-lived life is a rich portfolio of failures, experiences and adventures.

Reviewed by Marty Speight


Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader by Herminia Ibarra

This book turns the concept of becoming a better leader on its head. For most leadership coaches, the process of working with a leader is focused on introspection and learning even more about yourself. Ibarra, however, suggests that the most important thing to do as a leader is to “Act First, Think Later.” She highlights three areas where a leader should work on this: redefining your job, diversifying your network and becoming more playful with your self-concept. She threads her “outsight” principle throughout the book, encouraging people to develop from the outside rather than the inside.

I’d recommend this book more for newer leaders than extremely seasoned leaders. Her theories are very interesting and she offers many anecdotes where her ideas have been successful. She offers suggestions on how to play with the three areas mentioned above to help a leader accelerate their progress. She even tells an amusing story about her struggle to command the classroom when she was a new professor at Harvard Business School and had to “fake it ‘til she made it” to succeed. The concepts are all good for new leaders to consider, but may be a bit redundant for those more experienced.

Reviewed by Lindsay Guthrie

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Want to Relaunch or Advance Your Career? Volunteer!

By Hallie Smith (MBA ’98)

I’ve always been pretty leery of New Year’s resolutions, but as 2016 comes to a close, I’m reflecting on how I’ve spent my time and energy in the past year. I’m certainly eager to contribute to the greater good in 2017. Community service has been personally rewarding to me, but there are great reasons to volunteer from a professional perspective. Volunteering can make it possible to build your network, explore new functional areas, develop new skills and take on leadership roles. Working with nonprofits can also provide a path to nonprofit board positions, which can be effective resume-builders for executive roles. Volunteering, as I’ve personally experienced, can also be an effective way to re-enter the workforce.

After Darden, I spent several terrific years at Deloitte. But when child number two came along, I decided to “stay home.” I quickly found limitless opportunities to volunteer in my children’s schools and our community, but I was looking for a better way to tap into my MBA skills. That’s when I heard about Compass, an organization that assembles teams of MBAs and other business professionals to provide pro bono strategic guidance to nonprofits. Next thing I knew, I was staffed on a Compass project for Horton’s Kids and, afterwards, was asked to join the Compass Board. When I was offered a position on the Compass staff this summer, I leapt at the opportunity. Today, I manage selecting our nonprofit clients, recruiting volunteers and staffing our project teams. One of the best parts of my new job has been working with our 16 partner business school alumni clubs, and especially reengaging with the Darden community.

Through Compass, I’ve witnessed and experienced these many benefits of volunteering. Volunteers not only leverage their expertise, but also find opportunities to develop new skills that can augment their professional capabilities. They engage with nonprofit leaders and make professional connections on teams. Compass team members see the impact they have on a nonprofit’s ability to carry out its mission more effectively and efficiently, and they often build lasting relationships with clients that extend long after the projects end. Many Darden alumni have not only served on Compass projects, but also have participated in Compass’ On Board program, where professionals are matched to nonprofit boards.

Just in time for the New Year, I’m thrilled to announce Compass’ 29 new Micro Projects in Washington, D.C., which will run from late January through May. We are also launching Chicago’s first round of projects in January.

If you feel as if your for-profit efforts at work are outweighing your philanthropic efforts in life, are looking to dust off your MBA or want to get involved in more substantive volunteer work, you may find a Compass project rewarding on many levels. Please visit to apply for upcoming projects in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, as well as learn more about On Board — headed up by Nalini Rogers (MBA ’86) — and our ongoing projects in the D.C. area and Philadelphia. We would love to connect with you and help more Darden alumni than ever find meaningful community engagement in 2017!

Hallie (Hastert) Smith graduated from Darden in 1998 and now serves as Director of Consulting Programs for Compass.

If you are interested in exploring how volunteer opportunities might enhance your career, reach out to Alumni Career Services, and schedule time with a coach.

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Demystifying Executive Search

If you are actively searching for a senior-level job, or if you simply want to be considered for new opportunities in your field, executive search professionals are an excellent resource to include in your proverbial Rolodex.

Recently, BlueSteps,* the executive career service of the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC), hosted a free webinar entitled, “Executive Search and Your Networking Strategy.” The webinar included three panelists who are senior leaders of top-tier executive search firms. These professionals provided valuable information that addresses the primary question our alumni clients ask: “How do I make myself visible to executive search professionals?”

  • Focus on the relationship, not the transaction. Find a small number of search professionals that are a good match for you and treat them like any other important networking contact. When you reach out to a search firm, don’t spam the entire office — try to find the person in the office who represents your target industry or function.
  • Convey a clear goal. Perhaps you are afraid of pigeonholing yourself; perhaps you aren’t certain — in either case, a search professional does not want to have to figure out what’s best for you. This is good practice in general networking — you are easier to help when your audience knows what you want and why.
  • If a search professional calls you, call back! Try to be helpful even if you aren’t interested. Spencer Stuart, one of the most respected names in executive search, actually keeps track of candidates’ responsiveness and willingness to suggest ideas.
  • Take LinkedIn seriously. Complete your profile with a professional photo and content that is likely to appear in searches executed by your target audience. If you need help with your LinkedIn profile, schedule a review with an ACS coach.
  • If you are contacted by a search professional, be honest about your interest in the role. If you are interested and this is a professional/firm that you trust, be honest about your compensation history and expectations. If you have concerns about sharing your compensation history or are unsure of your expectations, an ACS coach can help.

* If you are interested in becoming a BlueSteps member, Darden alumni are eligible for a discount. Click here for more information.

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Introducing Alumni Advisors

The Armstrong Center for Alumni Career Services is thrilled to announce the launch of our pilot Alumni Advisor Program.

What is the Alumni Advisor Program?  Similar in concept to the Second Year Advisor program offered by Darden’s Career Development Center, the Alumni Advisor Program is designed to offer our clients the opportunity to speak with senior-level alumni in their professional areas of interest.

What areas of expertise do the current advisors represent? For the pilot, we have enlisted six highly accomplished alumni to serve as advisors. Marketing, entrepreneurship, private equity and management consulting represent the professional areas of expertise for four of the alumni advisors. The other two alumni are focused on very specific types of career challenges — career relaunch after hiatus from the workforce and transitions to the private sector from military careers.

What is the difference between a coach and an advisor?  ACS Career Coaches are paid, trained coaching professionals whose guidance is generalist and applies across industries and functional areas. Most importantly, ACS coaches are here to provide ongoing relationships and support to our clients. Advisors are alumni volunteers and are available for one-time informational conversations around their specific areas of expertise.

How do I connect with an advisor? If you are interested in speaking with an alumni advisor, please reach out to Alumni Career Services today! If you haven’t already been working with one of our career coaches, we suggest that you have an initial dialogue with one to ensure that you maximize the value of your conversation with the advisor.

Why do I need to speak with a coach before speaking to an advisor? In general, we prefer that you start with a coach to ensure that we pair you with the correct advisor and to broker a conversation that will be most productive.

What if I want to be an advisor? If you are interested in volunteering for the Alumni Advisor Program, please contact Alumni Career Services.

The Alumni Advisor Program is a celebration of the strength of the Darden network and the vibrant sense of community that is special to this institution. Alumni Career Services is incredibly appreciative of the generosity of our advisors, and we hope that you will take advantage of this valuable resource.

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