When I first arrived at Darden three months ago, there was one thing I was more anxious about than any other aspect of B-school. It wasn’t my career prospects (although I probably should have been more nervous about this). It wasn’t the demanding class schedule and curriculum. And it definitely wasn’t the fact that I was going to be sans paycheck for the next two years. Nope, it was whether or not I would have a good Learning Team.
For those not familiar with Darden, Learning Team is kind of like a study group that you are assigned to at the beginning of your first year. I say “like” because in reality it is so much more. Essentially it’s an otherwise random group of six first-year students from different backgrounds, genders, and nationalities that spend two or three hours a night sitting around a table in a tiny room talking through the case for each and every class. Needless to say I had two questions about the people I would be hanging out with every night for the next year: 1) Will I like them? ; and 2) Will they like me? It really never crossed my mind that this could be a positive experience; I was just hoping it wouldn’t turn out to be miserable.
We like to spend most of time messing around, as you can see
Well, that is a long-forgotten memory. I’m going to make a bold statement: my Learning Team is the best in Darden’s first year class (I say “bold” because a lot of people would say the same thing about the LT, but they would be wrong). I don’t even think of my LT, which we named, by the way, The Little Bears, as a study group anymore. I could be a CPA with a background in marketing and investment banking and I would still show up to meet with them every night at 7pm sharp. Yes we crush cases all night and yes it is a lot of work but it never really feels like it. We always mix up the night with a healthy dose of jokes, gossip, and videos (like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmJcUlrkMNg ). No one hesitates to stay late and help someone whose struggling with a particular case and everyone brings a unique perspective on each case.
In three months I’ve learned almost everything there is to know about them, including their families, relationships, future plans, and, most importantly, drink preferences. I’ve especially learned a lot of about the last point. You see, we are a social bunch of Little Bears (I know you’re making fun of me right now for referring to us as The Little Bears, but trust me, it’s awesome). If there is a Darden social event, you can pretty much count on all six of us being there. Much like the rest of Darden, we work hard and play hard. We just happen to get after it a little harder, whether it is coordinating a sweet Breakfast Club costume ensemble for the 100 Case party (still waiting on the pics), taking on the dance floor at TNDC, or meeting on a Friday afternoon for LT “Happy Hour” where we can kill two birds with one stone (cases and drinks). This past Sunday is a great example: after a long weekend, “J”, who is originally from New Orleans, invited us over for homemade jambalaya and drinks so we didn’t have to meet at Darden to go through our cases.
I guess the thing that as surprised me most is how much (I think) my LT likes me. You see, I am a weird person. Like, sarcastic, corny, self-conscious, all-over-the-place, off-topic . . . just, weird. I was pretty worried that everyone would catch on and quickly write me off. Instead, my group knows I’m weird and still wants to hang out with me every night. And that, more than anything, is what helps get me through the long days.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog “Never Mind, They Didn’t Like Me and I Got Voted Off the Island”.
If you would like to contact the author, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.