Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The First Week

After a week filled with moving boxes, multiple cases, guest speakers, new friends, and plenty else, only one thing is clear: This isn't going to be anything like my first college experience. In fact, I think the next two years may be the most challenging time of my life to date. That being said I couldn't be happier with my current situation.

I am stoked to be back in the Shenandoah Valley. Having done my undergrad only an hour west of Charlottesville at Washington & Lee University, I know everything this city has to offer. It is a beautiful place with far more to do than appears to the naked eye. This may be my last chance to live in an area such as this given my career goals and I intend to take advantage of it as much as possible. That may be easier said than done though.

Throughout my first college experience I can probably count on one hand the number of 12 hours day I put in. At Darden that appears be the minimum, and it will probably be more than that during my first year. That being said, Darden is a school built on the ideals of intimacy, interaction, and community. I chose it because these are the things that will help me survive, and ultimately excel, in the competitive environment of a top B-school. Only now I am seeing just how important they will be.

The best thing about B-school is not what the challenges entail, but rather what they produce. Knowledge. Understanding. Values. FUN. A couple of highlights from my first week, which was half orientation and half classwork, include:

• Discussing one of our first cases about Target with the company’s CFO. The case had to do with a new rewards credit card that the retail chain was unveiling. It was discussed the next day on the CFO’s quarterly earnings call with thousands of investors and analysts listening.

• Meeting my learning team for the first time. I cannot wait to work with these people. This is the most diverse group I have ever had the opportunity to be a part of: an engineer from China, a capital markets analyst from New York, a commercial banker from Atlanta, a graduate from the Air Force Academy, a lawyer from Mexico, and me. Not only am I looking forward to learning from them, but also hope to establish long-lasting friendships with my team as well.

• TNDC, otherwise known as Thursday Night Drinking Club. In addition to being a great way to blow off some steam, just another chance (among many) to meet other Darden students and make new friends.

• Tubing down the James River with 40 of my classmates. If you’ve ever been tubing the Shenandoah Valley, you know that this is Charlottesville at its best.

You can be sure I will be writing more about these things and more as I navigate the M.B.A. world. I am under no illusion that the next two years will be all fun and games, but I cannot help but look forward to it. This is an opportunity to grow leaps and bounds as a professional and a person. I am still finding my way and will be for some time, but this much I know for sure.