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!