God I used to hate that question in undergrad (Well, unless I was talking to a co-ed who thought my fraternity was cool). The point is, though, that at Darden you really don’t have to worry about cliques and that is pretty great. Sure, everyone is in groups (your learning team, section, career focus) but in the end, we are all Darden students and that counts more than anything. I don’t think I realized that until the 100 Case Party this past weekend.
Let’s think about that for a second. Everyone in my first-year class has read, evaluated, and discussed 100 different business cases, 100 different companies, 100 different industries, 100 different unique problems in just over two months. And the cases weren’t different for anyone in our 300+ person class; we all looked at the same problems and thought about the same issues. That’s really different from almost any other type of school experience, and all you needed to do to understand the impact of that was attend Darden’s 100 Case Party this past Sunday night.
Let’s ignore the fact that it was an amazing 80’s party. Let’s ignore the fact that my Learning Team decided to dress at the original Breakfast Club + the Principal (Xinlei, you are the man). Let’s ignore the sheer amount of alcohol consumed in the name of being awesome. I’d rather focus on the fact that it was a class-wide party of over 300 people celebrating a single (and only initial) feat: completing the first test of one of the world’s most demanding business schools.
I had no idea how many people I knew or how close I had grown with them until Sunday night. Everyone I ran into either threw me a high-five (the wannabe entrepreneurs and marketers) or a celebratory hand-shake (the wannabe bankers and consultants). It didn’t matter if it was section mate who I had spent the past 2 months discussing business five hours a day with or a random classmate who I had sat through a career conference talking about where I see the job market going in the next five years. We all just partied like it was 2007 (when the economy was good). I can’t tell you what a fun and revealing night it was, although I admit I didn’t realize it until my mind finally cleared the next morning (ok more like 3pm).
Ok, that’s a lot of random thoughts, but seriously it’s amazing how much my outlook has changed since August. To summarize, business school (or at the very least Darden) is incredible in its ability to unite people of a common thread, those that like to work hard and play even harder. I couldn’t be happier with my decision to be here. It’s not the easiest thing, but the challenge is well worth the reward. And I don’t mean the work is worth the sick job/career you get when you leave. It’s worth it for the late nights (both studying, networking, and neither), the people, and the experience. College is the best.
If you would like to contact the author, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.