Xinyi Jiang (Class of 2023) is currently the president of the Asia Business Club at Darden (ABCD). She is a Forte Fellow (half tuition merit-based scholarship), a Darden Breakthrough Scholar, and a CFA Charterholder. Jiang also secured the Bank of America MBA Global Banking and Markets Diversity Fellowship and received an Academic Achievement Award (awarded to the top 15% of each class). Before applying to Darden, Jiang received her bachelor’s degree in journalism and international politics at Renmin University in China. She then went on to get her master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University. For more information about Xinyi Jiang, check out her LinkedIn. After graduation from Darden, Jiang plans on returning to Bank of America, where she completed her summer internship, as an Investment Banking Associate. Jiang shared more about her First Year Darden experience and her hopes for ABCD.

Tell us about yourself. What led you to apply to Darden?

I was born and raised in China and moved to the US more than five years ago when I pursued a master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University. I launched my career as a financial journalist in New York and later moved to Charlottesville to write about mergers and acquisitions in the southeast US.

As I was writing about mergers and acquisitions, I developed a strong interest in the finance world. I was inspired by the industry-shaking headlines in the news I wrote. I wanted to deliver my own strategic insights instead of repeating what other people said. I started to study CFA and tried to apply for front-office roles in investment banks as I thought my writing and investigation skills as well as financial knowledge could be suitable. However, I quickly realized that, for many employers, it is hard to imagine a journalist switching careers to work in finance. Even though I had CFA level II on my resume, recruiters still saw me as a journalist. At that time, I knew an MBA was a must for me in order to switch my career to finance. Applying for Darden was a natural decision for me. I had lived in Charlottesville for two years and knew of its reputation in the finance world. It was clear to me that an MBA at Darden would help me pivot to investment banking.

What have you learned from living and studying in a different country?

I have learned to be my authentic self. When I first moved to the US, I tried very hard to imitate an American accent as I thought that was the only way I could be a good journalist in the US. However, no matter how hard I tried, I still couldn’t completely get rid of my original accent. As a reporter, whenever I was asked to repeat myself, I would apologize and felt guilty that my accent caused confusion. I was ashamed of the way I spoke and worried that my accent indicated to some that I didn’t belong.

Later I started to realize that everyone has an accent. I have gradually overcome the discomfort of clarifying myself as I know people ask me to repeat myself because they are interested in my thoughts. I have learned to stop imitating the American accent because my accent makes me unique and demonstrates that I am smart and speak multiple languages. I now see an accent as a beautiful connection to culture rather than a source of embarrassment.

In these past few years of living in a different country, there were many moments when I imperceptibly changed myself to fit a certain culture or a certain “norm.” It took me a while to learn to question whether I was being my true self in these moments. I stopped using my English name and started teaching people to pronounce my original name. I learned to speak up more and share my perspectives. I have gradually learned to embrace my identity, unleash my potential, and let my authentic self shine.

How did you get involved with the Asia Business Club at Darden?

I joined a few of Asia Business Club at Darden’s events before I started my MBA, as I had the advantage of living in Charlottesville. During these events, I saw the inclusive, collaborative, and welcoming Asian community at Darden, which confirmed my decision to join Darden and continue to foster the community.

As I was very determined to recruit for investment banking, I applied for some investment banks’ pre-MBA early diversity recruiting programs before Darden started. I received a lot of help from Asia Business Club at Darden and successfully landed an investment banking internship. I was very excited to pay it forward and help other Asian members in recruiting.

What are your hopes for the Asia Business Club at Darden (ABCD) going forward?

When I was elected as the president of ABCD, I updated our mission statements, which are: 1) making ABCD more diverse; 2) making ABCD your best Darden memory; and 3) increasing the awareness of ABCD.

Asia, as the world’s largest and most populated continent, shows great diversity in every aspect: languages, festivals, religions, and traditions. With members from different Asian countries and members who are interested in Asia, ABCD provides the best platform where we can learn from each other and promote diverse Asian cultures. As a supporting and welcoming affinity club, ABCD has always been a safe place where people can be vulnerable, find support and feel empowered. I hope to continue making ABCD a community where members feel included, heard, and supported and where members have their best Darden memories. Proud of my Asian heritage, I am also excited to further improve the awareness of ABCD in Darden and support our Darden classmates to experience Asian culture and enrich global perspectives.  

What advice do you have for Darden students? Specifically what advice do you have for international Darden students?

Darden is a haven where you can be yourself. At Darden, different cultures are celebrated with the whole community and different perspectives are encouraged and highly valued. It’s a safe environment where you can discover what matters to you, fail, and learn from mistakes. I cannot see another place better than Darden where you can explore your value and belief, learn to embrace your identity, and develop your authentic leadership style. I would encourage international Darden students to speak up more, contextualize their own perspectives, and help classmates enrich their global perspectives.

Also, believe in yourself. Every Darden student is providing unique value to the community. There is a reason why you are admitted and sitting in the classroom. The community appreciates your perspectives. Together, we can learn from each other and grow.