Darden FAQs - Pt 4: Closing Thoughts

"Moving to a new place, starting a new chapter in your life, exploring career options and new academic areas requires a LOT of vulnerability. Give yourself grace, be okay that things take time."
  • Be intentional about your priorities and what you want to get out of business school. Darden hits hard and fast and the more you can outline what you care about and why you are here before you actually get to Grounds, the easier it will be to prioritize when you're pulled in a million directions.

  • A second year once told me “you are currently the closest to the person you were before Darden” this might sound a little hokey, but the farther you get into the process the harder it might be to have clarity about what motivated you to go to school in the first place and the values that mattered before Darden. Take stock of where you are and what you want. Yes, things will likely change but it is also important to keep that broader perspective and remember what really matters to you.

  • Building meaningful relationships takes time. Darden is a super social place but it can sometimes feel at the beginning that you have a million friends but few people who you really know well.

    • Everyone feels awkward building new relationships/friendships. Do the things that can feel uncomfortable: ask for people’s cell #s, text people, invite people over for dinner or before TNDC, share Ubers to events and plan to walk over to things with people!  Little steps can go a long way in building early relationships and making you feel more comfortable.

    • Let your guard down and you will open yourself up to the opportunity to forge genuine relationships with everyone - first years, second years, professors, staff, etc.

    • Adapting to Darden is exciting but challenging - some people look like they can handle it better than others but make no mistake, everyone is challenged by the transition in different ways. Once you realize that and realize you don't have to pretend to have it all together, you can be more honest and open.

    • In our experience (especially at the beginning) when something is happening around Cville all are welcome. You don't have to be explicitly invited; people generally operate by the more the merrier.

  • You’ll often hear that the 3 pillars of business school are recruiting, social, and academics and that it's impossible to do all 3 well - something has to give. I would amend that and say, at any point in time, something has to give. You can do all 3 well, but not at the same time, likely not even in the same week. And that's OK.

Darden FAQs - Pt 3: Health & Wellness

"Health is often one of the first things that feels like it has to let go in order to accomplish everything you care about at Darden. It is important to think about ways you can commit to yourself and be honest and reasonable with what you need to feel good."

What/when/where do you eat?

  • You will gradually learn what will work for you but it can be tricky to figure out when to eat lunch and dinner (snacks are your friend!). There isn’t a ton of time for cooking, so if it matters to you you will need to make it a priority and be intentional about setting aside the time.

  • There are a ton of different grocery store options near Darden - Harris Teeter and Krogers in Barracks and there is also a Trader Joe’s, a Whole Foods and a Wegmans.

  • Some people use Abbott Center and grab lunch there - buffet style, pay by weight - but it can get expensive if you're doing that everyday ($7-$8/meal). Cafe 67 is a good option for a quick bite/snacks too, but less for a full meal

  • Often you will go directly from class to a company briefing or other event. Meal prep is key if you don’t want to predominantly eat at Darden during the day.

What/where/when do you exercise?

  • Cville has a lot of great options for working out. North Grounds is a gym right outside Darden that everyone will have access to and is convenient! There are also a lot of popular boutique workout places you can take yoga, barre, spin, and other types of group fitness. Cville also has awesome places to go for hikes and do other outdoor activities (though this can be tricky to fit in!).
  • Similar to cooking, it is tricky to figure this out and will probably require some trial and error. Some people find early morning workouts a good bet, some people before or after learning team. Again, there isn’t going to be a ton of time to workout so you’ll have to be intentional about how you prioritize.


Darden FAQs - Pt 2: What to Wear & How to Get Involved

What do you wear?

  • Class:

    • People dress nice casual.  In general at the beginning of the year people are more conscious of how they are presenting themselves and it gets more casual as time progresses - though it is pretty rare to see someone come to class in workout clothes or sweats.

    • When it is HOT outside it is COLD inside Darden. Layers will be your best friend.

  • Recruiting Events:

    • Generally speaking you wear business casual to company sponsored recruiting events such as briefings and to career club conferences. If you are recruiting for finance or consulting this will likely lean more to business formal depending on the event.

    • In the fall you might be attending briefings multiple days a week so it is useful to have a handful of items you can repurpose for different events.

    • Briefings can be right after classes - a big reason you will see some people coming to class in suits during the school year.

    • Places like Ann Taylor, the Loft and Banana Republic have amazing sales so it might be worthwhile to pick up a few pieces  before coming to school if you worked in a more casual environment.

  • What bag do you use?

    • Majority of folks use backpacks but you can bring whatever is comfortable for you. Typically you are bringing to campus things for a long day so a backpack is an easy way to transport your computer, notebooks, snacks, lunch or whatever.  

    • Herschel backpack and a Swell or Hydroflask water bottle seemed to be the trend for 2018 :P Feel free to be more inventive!

How do I get involved?

  • Club Involvement
    • Many clubs function to serve and optimize the FY experience (Career Clubs, many of the affinity groups) so you get to sit back and relax and engage as a member in events and opportunities designed just for you! Unlike clubs you might have joined in undergrad or high school, most Darden clubs allow you to direct how you engage and how much time you spend participating. There are not weekly meetings but most send out weekly newsletters and offer a variety of events you can choose to participate in. 
    • Clubs come with “dues” to participate. This can add up quickly but in the long run this $ is a small fraction of what you are paying to come to business school. Wise to budget a pool of money to put toward joining clubs. 
    • After Club Fair & Club Kick Off meetings you will receive an email from DSA with a form where you will sign up for all clubs and pay all dues together in one place. At this point you will have access to sign up for *all* clubs regardless of if you got your name on the list at Club Fair or attended the Kick Off. 
    • Similar to how GWIB encourages men to join our Male Ally program, other affinity groups also encourage membership beyond people who individually identify with the group. 
    • Many clubs have FY reps and the way each club selects reps is different, but you will get more information on that in the first few weeks.
  • Section Leadership:
    • You’ll learn all about the quirks and traditions of your section on the “Norms Day.” You will also learn more about the Section Leadership opportunities that exist.
    • A great way to lead FY is to run for Section Leadership. Each section has a small leadership team that manages a variety of responsibilities. You will have the opportunity to run for positions in the first few weeks. If you are interested, you should run!
    • Section Rep serves as the defacto section President and is responsible for managing relationships with faculty, the Office of Student Affairs and the Darden Student Association while also being the primary driver of community norms for the Section. Social Chair(s) are responsible for developing community outside of the classroom by hosting a lot of events such as planning Darden Cup tailgates and other fun get togethers and parties. Athletic Rep is responsible for managing the Darden Cup experience, getting teams together and motivating participation. There are Review Coordinators who plan how you prep for exams (so important!) and other positions like Outreach Chairs (who manage community service opportunities) and more!


Darden FAQs - Pt 1: Orientation, Schedule & The Case Method

On 7/25 GWIB hosted about 40 incoming women for a Google Hangout to pull back the curtain on the Q1 Darden First Year Experience. In the following 4 posts will share some of the highlights of the conversation. 

What's the deal with Orientation?

  • First Year Camping Trip:

    • Some people go, some people don’t go. It won’t make or break your Darden experience one way or the other. Good opportunity to trust your gut and figure out how you want to spend the weekend! It can be a really fun way to meet people and have a shared experience in a really beautiful place (and perhaps take yourself out of your comfort zone if you are less camping inclined which is a good metaphor for Darden). It is equally important to be able to say “no” to some opportunities like this to be able to focus on setting up your apartment, getting organized or whatever else you might be considering!

  • You take a class photo on the first day so dress nice-casual (no need for business casual). Jeans and a top or a sundress tend to be the norm. Flats or sandals are totally fine. You walk around a bit during Orientation so being comfortable is nice!

  • Bring a water bottle and a snack or two - days can be long and busy

  • On Monday you will meet your Section! We found out our sections in an email the Friday before Orientation - at this point you will also have access in Canvas to the seating chart with everyone in your sections photos

  • You will also meet your Learning Team on Monday. We found out our teams by meeting in our assigned Learning Team rooms at a specific time. You just slowly show up in the room one by one and then do ice breakers together!

How does the Schedule Work? 

  • Class is everyday from 8 to 1:10 pm with a break for First & Second Coffee
  • First Coffee is an amazing time to connect with friends and build relationships with people in your section and beyond. It can be tempting to use First Coffee to get caught up on work or emails but it is worth it to take the time to go and hangout in PepsiCo. When else in life do you have dedicated 35 minutes to just be with people?! It is the dream.
  • It may seem like you have a lot of free time after 1:10 everyday and on Fridays but the time quickly gets filled up! You will have LT every evening from Sunday -Wednesday (usually from 7-9:30 ish). After class, you'll likely have a mix of club events, company briefings, time spent preparing for LT (reading and doing analysis for the the next day's cases), and all sorts of other recruiting things (meeting with SYs, fixing your resume, networking calls, working on your cover letter, etc).
  • Fridays are often used for Club Conferences. Most of career clubs & some of the affinity clubs (like GWIB!) host a conference that usually has a Thursday night reception and a full Friday of events

The Case Method: Cases, Learning Team & The Classroom

  • Cases will be printed and provided to you in a big bundle at the start of school. Most people come up with some sort of organization strategy for all this paper: for example you can have 1 large master binder organized by class and then a smaller binder that you pull out cases for the week.

  • You'll find your groove for what works best for you and your LT  in terms of managing the workload. It is important to understand for yourself what your learning objectives are and be clear about that with your Learning Team. Are you hoping to be a technical master or do you care more about learning the vocabulary and being proficient at speaking about business concepts? Do you want to focus on filling gaps or strengthening areas you are planning to recruit in?

  • Your time is limited and it can be very challenging (if not at times humanly impossible) to read and analyze each case to 100% (often there isn’t even a line in the sand about what a 100% looks like!). It is important to understand your learning habits and needs and be able to communicate that with you LT so you can all strategize about the best ways support each other.  You will spend more time with your LT this year than practically anyone else. Trust them and use them!

  • Finding your voice in the classroom is a huge part of the early Darden experience (and for many of us is something we hope to continue to hone through Second Year). Not only is classroom participation a big part of your grade, it is also a thing that will on some days make you feel amazingly confident (nothing better than classmates telling you you nailed a comment!) and on other days can give you anxiety (dodging the dreaded cold call, stumbling on an answer in class). Q1 most people are so focused on figuring out how to participate themselves that they barely notice how others participate -  section should be a supportive place to take risks with limited fear of judgement. Jump into conversations, raise your hand high and really challenge yourself to hone this important skillset!