Name: Joyce Xu (Class of 2018)

Hometown: Shanghai, China

Pre-Darden University and Major: Shanghai Jiaotong University, German

Pre-Darden Employment: Accenture, IMS Consulting

Tell me about what life was like growing up for you.  My hometown of Shanghai is a renowned international metropolis situated on the estuary of the Yangtze River. It serves as the most influential economic, financial, international trade and cultural center in East China. I grew up in a family with my mom and dad both working at local companies. I spent the past 25 years living in Shanghai. Before Darden, I spent four years doing management consulting and corporate strategy in Asia.

What motivated you to want to earn an MBA degree?  I had an exchange experience with Bonn University in Germany when I was a sophomore at Shanghai Jiaotong University. I thought it was a wonderful experience that helped me develop both personally and professionally. Afterward, it made me want to continue seeking higher degrees. Personally, I love embracing different cultures around the world and meeting new friends, and an MBA degree is the best way to get those once-in-a-lifetime experiences at an earlier stage in your career.

Why did you choose the University of Virginia Darden School of Business?From an academic perspective, Darden is one of the few business schools that uses the case method to teach, and I think that is a more effective way of learning and applying new knowledge than the lecture format. From a career perspective, Darden provides me with a great platform to switch from consulting to banking, thanks to the extraordinary placement work the Career Development Center (CDC) has historically done. Another important factor when I made my decision was my experience meeting Darden alumni, who are both humble and very successful. I could envision myself in a great community like Darden.

As a non-native English speaker, how have you adjusted to the case method and life at Darden?  In class, we discuss complex situations facing companies and different topics in English, which itself is a great opportunity for me to practice my English. After class, my learning team definitely helped me a lot, as did the wonderful faculty here! My classmates and I went out to dinner and socialized outside of Darden regularly during my First Year, and I’ve made a lot of good friends, both domestically and internationally. The dynamic clubs and activities you can attend here also contribute a lot to my learning experience. I constantly attend trekking, mountain climbing and running events organized by the Outdoor Club and have found that to be a wonderful way to make new friends and practice speaking English.

How did Darden help you find and prepare for your internship? During the recruiting process, I repeatedly booked meetings with Ed, Denise and Kellogg — they helped me improve my resume, practice my behavioral interview skills, and prepare me for technical interviews when I was recruiting for banking and corporate finance jobs. Ed even sacrificed his personal weekends to help many of us do mock interviews. The CDC staff are simply wonderful and super helpful. All of them were amazing at helping us with everything from our resumes and cover letters to our interview preparation.

What advice do you have for prospective students?  Darden is going to be tough because the process will teach you so many things you don’t know. You will have to balance so many things at the same time: recruiting, studying and networking. But at the same time, Darden is amazing, and it is definitely a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experience. You will benefit so much from your classmates, the faculty and everything else.

How did living in Charlottesville impact your MBA experience?  As the former home of three of America’s Founding Fathers, and the current home of the University of Virginia, the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, is infused with an appreciation of history and intellectual vigor. Living here has given me better access to learning about American history and how the country was built by the hands of great men. I am glad I attended many guided tours to see some of Thomas Jefferson’s old houses and buildings. I feel more connected to the country’s inner spirit after visiting the historical sites in Charlottesville. Moreover, I become a big fan of C-ville (the local nickname for Charlottesville), and I went to see many University of Virginia basketball games.

What do you hope to do with your life post-Darden?  In the long term, I want to go back to China and leverage what I have learned at Darden to help Chinese companies better shape the future of their businesses.