Sunday, August 31, 2008


We're all adults and thus, Darden says that we may select our own priorities. They also note that prioritization is one of the number one skills you will learn in business school. However, there are limits on how many of those priorities can be outside class - you are allowed 2 absences - unexcused, per quarter, per class. Basically, don't use them all in the same place. The list of excused absences is short, but it is because if students aren't in class and the case method is essentially taught by students, you risk an incomplete education. Not something you want for that chunk of tuition forked over at the beginning of the term.

My latest dilemma wasn't exactly a big one initially. This weekend, I am IN a wedding in San Francisco. The woman is basically a sister to me and as much as I'd love to say that I wouldn't miss her day for the world, truth is, if I wasn't a bridesmaid, I may not be here.

The accumulating days at Darden definitely got the best of me on Friday. I was a bit woozy and it was hard for me to pay appropriate attention in class. Then ask me to link Friday's cases with any of the others we've had and you're simply asking for a miracle. After a 2 hour drive from C'ville to Dulles, I boarded my flight and slept the entire trip home. Landing in SF, my ride was already at the airport and I went straight home to shower before joining the rehearsal dinner party in SF. It was extremely late on the East coast when I finally crawled into bed.

Saturday kicked off with manicures and pedicures for the bridal party, followed by lunch. I wish I had come home and worked on cases, but a nap won my attention. Last night I packed 2 more bags of winter clothes so if it does get cold, I will be covered. Finally, it's Sunday morning - the morning of the wedding and I STILL haven't touched my cases. (Understanding the theme?) My parents leave in 30 minutes as their flying through JFK tonight and head to Africa tomorrow. My flight leaves at 10:10p tonight and I must be in SF for the wedding at 11 am. Not only is that a long day, but also the only time I get to sleep before Sunday night and Monday class is a 5 hour plane flight. OUCH! Oh yeah, still need to finish my cases.

I've already figured that I WILL miss DA on Monday. I'm not happy about it, but it was the only way to make everything work. The wedding is my priority (though I'm definitely stretching myself thin).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Section D Norms

Each section has its own identity. Norms are set by the sections preceding and each class has the opportunity to add its own norms. This is probably not the place to divulge the details, so I will refrain, however, I will give a little insight. First, every section has some sort of "song and dance". Ours includes a form of the wave mixed with pounding on the walls/tables as a hello to anyone who is introduced in our class. Each section creates a t-shirt, which I presume is used for Darden Cup events. Unfortunately, my section has a very beautiful trophy from last year, for being the worst performing section in the Cup. Ironically enough, academically, they were one of the best performing. I'm hoping to level both those at the top of the scale this year.

In addition, today, we created section norms for the classroom. Each section has a classroom for the quarter and during each class period, the faculty move, not the students. With the case method, there are a few caveats that are not like a regular classroom. The first, 30-50% of final grades are typically based on participation. Not only is there a feeling of need to participate, but there is also a bit of fear. We can only hope that each person among us is as respectful as they'd want you to be to them. When there's no right answer, that can seem difficult. Thus far, our conversations haven't gotten heated. We've put our hands down when someone else has the floor and there's a rare occurrence when one speaks out of turn. All the same, today, we put rules in the open so each person knows what is expected of them and their classmates.

As for me, my contribution today was "positive reinforcement". My demeanor is often that of a happy camper, yet my feelings after an agonizing cold call can be quite similar to that of a tough interview - questioning, draining and worried. Last week after a long cold call in Managerial Accounting, one of my classmates told me he was impressed with my ability to withstand the professors wrath and that he didn't think he would have fared the same. Though I can say with confidence that he would have done just as well, that little comment gave me more confidence than I could have asked.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Schedule

Cases are mounting and I can't even wait until the infamous "100 case party" (Party thrown for FY after 100 cases are completed). I'm not sure how close we are, though I know I will wake up one morning and go, really, we made it?

I still wake up and wonder what I've gotten myself into. No one ever apologizes for the schedule and the SYs simply smile as if they know something we don't. "Trust the process!" - the mantra that is supposed to calm our nerves and make everything better. I have no reason to question the process, yet it's hard not to when you feel like you're running into the ground.

Classes are in full swing and I think the only one left to attend is Operations. Classes at Darden are cascaded and if I could make any sense of the actual schedule, I would. We have 3 classes a day, approximately 1.5 hours each. For the quarter, I am taking 5 full classes, 2 mini and the schedule encompasses various "programs". Programs can range from Voyage of Discovery, the team building activity from last Friday to section norm discussions and presentations. Reading days also exist, but we haven't reached one yet.

Speaking of tomorrow, I'm not sure how I'm going to work this. I have 2 cases to complete for learning team in addition to 3 club kick-off meetings, 2 classes and preparation for career management. Luckily, no Marketing class tomorrow because we were given time to complete an online test, which I finished on Saturday. I'm really not an overachiever, just simply trying to find a means to my survival.

Friday, August 22, 2008


The great thing about b-school is activity. The unfortunate thing about activity is that you must be physically healthy in order to partake. I've had my falls and a laundry list of injuries, but none as reoccurring as my ankle(s). After 7 days, my right ankle is still swollen from a wrong move in a pick-up soccer game. I had hoped that it'd be a couple weeks, but as days pass, I must be more realistic. Six weeks is my target at this point.

I appreciate the concern from all of my classmates, but at the same time, I'd rather forget about the injury. I've spent 2 days on crutches which is enough for a lifetime, but I'd be happy if that's my quota for the next year. Physical therapy starts tomorrow, although I'm not sure when I'll have time in the next few weeks to continue treatment. The schedule is insane! It's no wonder Darden will never deny that it is rigorous. I can only hope that we get better and faster at cases.

Tomorrow we don't have class (and I'm thankful). I needed to catch up on some sleep. We do however, have Voyage of Discovery, which is some sort of team building activity. We not only bond, but we are expected to run around and I'm guessing complete a scavenger hunt (speculation of course). Water and comfy clothes are our requirements and I suppose this is why I'm so down about my injury right now. Not to mention I missed soccer, baseball or football today - all of which were set up by SY for bonding. It's a difficult paradox, wanting to partake in activity and taking the right steps to heal.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I survived!

I survived my first set of cases on my own.
I survived my first learning team and found it quite beneficial.
I survived 3 classes with 3 cases and perhaps even added valuable input.
I survived my first official day at Darden!

Wow! I know already that timing is tight and when they say the schedule is insane, I think that's an understatement. It's 2:10p and at 7p, I will be back on grounds to meet the other 5 members of my learning team. I'm tired, my mind is spent and I basically have a rug burn on my sides from crutches. Yes, crutches. After a long delay, I finally went to the doctor yesterday due to the swelling in my ankle not decreasing. Needless to say, the doc wants me off ankle for 2 days and onto PT on Friday. Sounds great and of course, I'm going to fit this in with all my extra free time. Free time, what's that? Oh yeah, I'm a Darden student. (Thankfully the first session is on Friday - no cases due on Saturday.)

It feels good to have survived, but in the essence of wanting to get some sleep tonight and perhaps a solid dinner, I'm off for the second crack at the case method. More on this later.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Learning Team

The unofficial stat is about 2% of learning teams don't work, so when you imagine who is going to be on this team, you hope and cross your fingers that your team doesn't end up in that 2%. There was much anticipation about learning teams and a few people even contemplated jumping Marsh (Director of Student Affairs)in advance. Today, after another class of logistics and one on career development, we received a slightly delayed intro to learning teams. After which we were instructed to look at the easels in the hall and go the the room number that corresponded with your name to meet your team. And you wonder why everyone views this as suspenseful? ;)

No one was in my room when I arrived, but I glanced at the envelope and immediately recognized 2 other names. We are a diverse group with vast experience for our young ages. And thankfully, we have a CPA! My man K tried to tell me he wasn't, but eventually divulged that important fact. I was afraid I was supposed to be the one with accounting knowledge. Let's just say, that wouldn't be a good thing even though it is one of my undergrad emphases.

My fellow female soccer star has all sorts of experience in international trade law. The Brazilian helped run multiple companies. Mr. Z helped build a company from scratch and finally, our Nigerian friend has lived all over the world - most recently in Singapore working on economic development. Definitely excited to get to know the gang!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Section D

Unofficial class starts tomorrow with the first two days being orientation and Wednesday being the first day we do cases. Tonight, there was a welcome ceremony and though the thoughts were great to hear, it was a struggle to stay focused. Also, after 2 weeks of meeting tons of people, we now know which section we are in. I am a member of SECTION D. It's a bit strange given that I know a number of people in my section already. Of course, I suppose I know a number of people here, so perhaps they're one in the same. On Tuesday, we should meet our learning teams as well, which will be another fun surprise.

In addition, I picked up my Q1 cases, WOW, the packet is thick. Looks like I may need to purchase a few binders. I haven't quite decided whether I share a binder between 2 classes or if each class needs its own. Something TBD.

Fun stats about the Darden Class of 2010:

Covers 5 continents
334 total class size
97 women
33% international

692 Average GMAT
3.35 Avg GPA
28 Age
22-34 Age Span

World record holder
Number of college athletes
Peace Corps Volunteers

25% Undergrad business majors
13% Economics
8% Have military experience

Each class seat had 9 people competing for it.

Most represented Universities:
25 Attended UVa
6 Attended Notre Dame


I'm moving a little slower than I had anticipated this morning. I thought camping sounded like a good relaxing start to the craziness that will ensue starting at 4p today, unfortunately, it was another level of insanity. Our fearless leader planned the trip perfectly. Part of the group met at 3p on Friday to head to our campsite, the other half met us there. The site had a large mess hall and a couple of bathrooms thankfully. But besides that, it was 2 days with bugs, dirty clothes and beer. Friday night after a fantastic dinner we made smores and bonded. By 2am those left were attempting to remember all the words to Jimmy Buffet's Martgueritaville.

Saturday kicked off with a light breakfast and some sandwich making. The group filled 6 or so coolers with beer, sandwiches, chips and ice. At that point, we were prepared for tubing down the river. People strategically latched on to various coolers and each other. A couple of us were wanders, but for the most part there were two large flotillas. It took a solid 5 hours or so to cover 3 mi of river, which is likely why my back has a little too much color.

Most people took naps after tubing before another amazing dinner. Things got out of hand Saturday night when we turned the mess hall into a rowdy room of drinking games. Beirut on one table and two tables for flip cup. All good times, but definitely contributed to my delay today.

I think the hike that was tentatively scheduled for this morning was essentially canceled, however, I didn't stay around to find out. We broke camp around 9a, cleaned and left by 10a. I've just returned. Enough time to shower, eat, relax for a few minutes before the first year barbecue on grounds. (Darden is located on the north GROUNDS, not campus.)And it begins...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Already searching for minutes

Class begins Monday and I'm already looking for time to myself. The gatherings have been pleasant, but a bit exhausting. And yesterday, a group of us met for some pick up soccer, which ended in detriment as I officially sprained the OTHER ankle after healing the original from 1.5 weeks ago. It absolutely sucks, but there's nothing I can do about it.

PCAP was definitely worthwhile as we investigated ourselves to find out what matters to us, what de-energizes us, what items we excel at, what things we have to improve (etc...) and how we can combine the lot to develop life themes. We then rate the importance of each life theme and add supporting or contradictory evidence from the insights deduced from the various introspective tests. Eventually, we should be able to compare our desired functions and careers to the life themes. Thus seeing how good of a fit that function/career actually is. This is all made possible through Career Next Step and a few outside assessments. (Hopefully that made a little sense.)

I didn't exactly go to bed early last night and when I finally fell asleep, I found that the aircast on my right ankle made it quite difficult to get comfortable. I awoke a little after 3am, again at 4a, slightly before the 7a alarm and actually thrust myself out of bad at 10 after 7a. There were plenty of other times I refused to look at the clock as well. This made my attention struggle during today's Career Discovery Forums arduous. Various alumni returned to Darden to speak of their experiences in a variety of functions - from general management to investment banking to private equity. Some speakers were better than others, but overall, informative. There are a few jobs that I can clearly say, I'm not interested. Suppose that's a good start. Tomorrow morning kicks off with consulting at which 5 firms will be represented. In addition, there will be marketing and non-traditional job presentations. It's not likely that I'll make it to the latter as we leave at 3:30p to go camping for the weekend, but I will be bright eyed and ready at 8a for consulting, as that is one of two functions with which I'm currently toying. (It was also the function I noted in my essays...)

For this weekend, camping is going to be fun, though, the ankle may prohibit me from having as much as I wanted. I'm hoping tubing is still a feasible idea, may need some help from the roommate and a few classmates. We'll see. Only problem is, I need to complete some laundry before the trip. It'll have to wait until after my nap though. I am skipping tonight's festivities and when I return on Sunday, there are Darden festivities and our class picture. Time is flying and I'm searching for a few minutes to myself, but it's hard and I know it is about to get busier.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


It was another rowdy weekend, but it's time to buckle down. Classes start in a week and this week is all about career discovery, which I suppose is part of the purpose of business school. My roommate was told by a second year that of the people who know what they want to do now, 50% of them will get a summer internship in that function and then half of those will change their mind about the function after the internship. So if you don't have a set goal on what you want to do, it's ok, likely it would change anyway. However, each of us still wants to find the best fit, which is why we're partaking in PCAP - Personal Career Assessment Program. Before tomorrow, there are two online assessment tests that must be completed as well as 2 cases. Overall, doesn't sound too complex, but I'll admit, I'm having some difficulty with the introspection - odd given that I write about myself in an open forum all the time. I suppose I also get a bit nervous when I think about it because this program should help me narrow my focus for the job search. As much as I'm ready to start the job search, I am still overly open with the functions in which I'm interested. Perhaps too open.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Welcome Back to College

It's currently difficult for me to see the difference between undergrad and grad school. Granted, I'm sure that will change once the real work starts, but I sit here, gatorade in hand, wondering if my body can handle the rest of Camp Darden's planned activities. Yes, I wrote, CAMP DARDEN and no it isn't exactly a school group. A handful of 2010 classmates have been in Charlottesville for almost a month. They have taken a tour of sorts - bowling, karaoke, bull riding, house parties etc and they began calling it Camp Darden. It started as an email list and has grown to a google group with a logo. Most of my classmates will know what you mean when you ask what camp festivities are planned and the list of people/festivities keeps getting longer. Beer pong was last night and though I never played much in college, I held my own for Team Awesome - we even won a game. The plethora of Natural Light beer reminded me that we're here. At Colorado, we drank Keystone, but same difference esp. after a couple pong games. Tonight is the Triple Threat Birthday Party... starting at 7:30p. Ouch! Additionally, Friday - Sunday all have parties planned.

On the school front, we're in the middle of PreMats. I took the Excel course as a basis of learning how Darden wants me to tackle Excel. It was beneficial. Econ started today and though it probably would have been smart to take it, I opted not. Hopefully I can find someone who is good at Econ if I need the help. I'm already zeroing in on other functions as well. One of my friends is an accountant and though I do have an accounting background, I'm not good with the intricate details. Another is an excel wizard when it comes to making spreadsheets look pretty. These are all little tidbits that I'm sure will help me in the future.

Sunday, August 03, 2008


As we all know, we attend business school first and foremost for the education. However, there's another aspect that is often only spoken about in terms like community, networking, learning teams and sections. Though simply, we are referring to the social aspects of business school. In the grand scheme of things, life is about relationships - both personal and professional. Through both you may meet people who enrich your life on a level of friendship or who help you land your next job. The past few days, I have been socializing with my current first year Darden classmates.

I'll admit, when you walk into a room and get introduced to 8 of the 50 people standing there, it's a bit overwhelming. You claw to remember even one person's name and a tidbit about them. For me, I've worked slow. I aim to remember a handful of people, by name, each day. although it's even more difficult when you throw partners in the mix.

Thursday afternoon, I received a phone call and invite to a gathering in the building next to mine. Someone who had befriended me on Facebook remembered that I had arrived in town. Not only did I feel special, but I appreciated the chance to meet some people. Little did I know, this was just the beginning of the activites. The next night is when all hell broke loose.

The party at CD's house had been planned for weeks. It was the kick off to pre-matriculation classes, which begin tomorrow as well as another chance to meet 50 of your next BFFs. Luckily, I knew a number of people before I arrived, though, that didn't stop me from expanding my range. It was definitely a party for the books, a keg and a half kicked by midnight. Additionally, the flip cup and beer pong were quite entertaining to watch. (Anyone having flashbacks from college?) And the icing, making a beer run for Natural Light after the kegs were cashed. (Yes, definitely a "college" student again.) My favorite quote of the night... "I don't drink beer" ...looks down at beer in hand..."I DIDN'T drink beer."

Saturday was another day of moving in and after a trip to almost every desk store imaginable, I returned empty handed. Still looking. My roommate (who is ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS I MIGHT ADD) and I stayed home and baked cookies, both sharing in the duties. It was a real delight and a good break though it didn't last long. This morning we met up with a group of about 15 people and headed to the national park for a 6.5 mi hike. Indeed, after a bout of stupidity, I rolled my ankle, again. The end of the night was another gathering and potluck! Lots of good meals and quite an array of dishes. I'm not sure I'm ready for tomorrow, but I already know at least 5 people in my 8 am class. That can only be a good thing.

I'm not sure if this is indicative of all schools or even all classes because each one is comprised of very different people, but it seems, this class will definitely be a social one.