Monday, April 28, 2008
I realised that I haven't really talked a lot about this quarter and our the elective format at Darden. To start off the quarter has been very different in terms of work load. To a great extent Q3 and Q4 you can choose as to how much effort you want to put in and what you want to get out of the courses you have taken. While some choose to spend 3-4 hours on 2-3 cases everyday and bewell prepared for the class others read the case, apply framaework and are more comfortable learning the rest in class. They utilise the time for other activities such as club roles, case competitions, business planning, entreprenurial ideas or just plain relaxed lifestyle. You definetly can choose your lifestyle based on what you think fit.
Another big element of Q4 are the electives. Most people pick Q4 electives based on what prepares most for their interships while also considering interests. Hopefully the two align. I picked Consulting Process, Entreprenurial Thinking and Data Analysis and Optimisation. Peronally I am very happy with the way Darden curriculum is structured with core courses thorugh first 3 quarters and electives starting in Q4. Even more so on the fact that it is well balanced to give a good general management persective that sets you up well for any career you may be pursuing. On the electives themselves I am very happy with 2 of 3 and reasonably satisfied with the third one.
Recently we also bid on second year courses which are all electives. This obviously means that our entire 2nd year experience including schedules are customised. I think I speak for everyone when I say that its great to be able to design such an experience. You might be wondering as to why we select the entire second year on one go. We had the same concern but realised that its for pure logistical reasons and there are plenty of oppurtunities to switch courses later. I am really excited about some of the courses that I have taken up. Some of the exciting ones I am taking are Bargaining and negotiations, Games and Auctions, Management decision models , Entrepreneurial Finance & Private Equity, Derivative Securities: Options & Futures, Managing International Trade & Investments, Leadership & Diversity through Literature.
I can't beleive that we are in our last week of our first year program. If the first year was anything to go by, next year should be very very exciting.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
One of things I considered while applying to business school was where I would be living. At first it did not strike me an immensely important but later it did start playing on my mind a bit more. Now that I have lived in Charlottesville and think about advantages and disadvantages of living in a smaller city I realize that location has immense influence on your life at Business school. Not that you should decide where to go based on location but definitely feel you should consider it and think about how you are going to cope or adapt.
While a smaller city provides you an opportunity to be focused and immersed, living in a big city say New York can be distracting. Also it gives you opportunity to develop closer relationships as more often than not people stay closer to school, meet each other frequently and participate in many activities and events together. In a bigger city I can easily imagine people going out and living their own lives. Smaller city also afford a great environment for learning. I can think of better example than Darden in the bigger University of Virginia campus. Another great advantage I find is that it’s pretty easy to get around for any activity and you save lot of time in local commute.
On the other hand there are some disadvantages for B-school in smaller cities. First and foremost is accessibility. It’s hard to find flights to various destinations and you often have to drive to nearby airports. Also like in all small towns the choice of activities or places to go are limited and you get tired of running into the same people again and again. Small towns can never match the eating, dining and other entertainment options, sports and recreation facilities etc of a larger city.
Having said that I would counter that Charlottesville is in many ways unique. It combines the lifestyle, peace and other benefits of a small town with facilities and entertainment of a bigger city. Firstly UVA is a pretty big university which ensures that there are tons of bars with lot of activity in the downtown, also known as ‘corner’ area. There are a few clubs around as well. Charlottesville has quite a few restaurants for its small size and of pretty decent quality. Part of the reason for its dual nature is because it is considered a great retirement option for lot of wealthy individuals, and that brings along several other small businesses. In terms of commute, Charlottesville does have an airport but is limited is its flight options. You can drive down to Richmond (1.5 hrs) or DC (2 hrs) and catch flights from there. Having those bigger cities nearby is also useful is many other ways both for business and recreation.
This is by no means an in depth analysis but I hope I provided some insight into what a Business school in small city offers vs one in bigger city. Also hope that I shed some light on Charlottesville. I am going to follow up this post with few things Dardenites do outside school to provide you better insight on what your life might be life if you choose to come here.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I just signed up for couple of events for this year’s ‘Darden days’. I remember what a great time I had as an admitted student last year. Read all about it here
The event provided me useful information about curriculum, case method, ‘learning teams’, career opportunities and in general the overall life at Darden. You would also get an opportunity to interact both with first and second year students and learn from their experiences. This was particularly useful as I not only got most of my questions answered but also got great tips on what to prepare upfront and things to focus on while I am at Darden. For those who have not yet accepted their offers, it will be a great opportunity to see what the Darden life and community is all about. What I found was all students, faculty and administration openly shared their opinion about the school, what’s good, what needs to be changed and elaborated on the core values by the Darden community. This year we had a primer event called the “Day at Darden” where almost 80 admitted students got to sit in a Student discussion with the Dean on Darden’s strategy and long term goals. I think this vouches for the point I was making about frankness with which Darden presents itself to the outside world. Overall, I think Darden Days is an excellent source of information for admitted students.
If you have already decided to matriculate at Darden this a great chance to get to meet some of your future classmates to start building your network and relationships. You will find that Darden is very close knit, team based community and your experiences to a great extent are defined by the relationships you build while you are here.
Finally and most importantly, Darden Days is about meeting people, socializing and having fun. There are lots of activities planned including Dinner and Lunches with first and second years and you will get to meet some interesting people and have some interesting conversations. I am not sure what the grand finale is yet but if last year is anything to go by, it should be exciting stuff!