It’s been over a week since classes began and along with classes, we’re also getting set with our learning teams. I should begin with the learning teams for this post, since that is one of the most unique things about this place. The learning teams’ concept is just another expression of Darden’s collaborative culture. They basically organize all their students into groups of 5 or 6 such that each group is almost representative of Darden student background distribution – by nationality, gender, educational and work background. So my LT has 5 fantastic people from backgrounds such as Citibank and the US Marines. There’s a Turk, a desi and a Bangladeshi, apart from three Americans. And all these people bring with them various viewpoints and experiences that make for a very engaging 3 hours spent at our LT meetings every evening. Yes 3 hours. That’s how seriously we’re expected to take our cases.
Last week, D organized some LT team building exercises here on grounds (they don’t call it campus and I wonder why). Named the Voyage of Discovery, it was based on the Lewis and Clarke expedition in Virginia and consisted of a number of events and each event you won in earned you a feather or two. You also had your own flag and motto. Think of the Crystal Maze TV show in modern time and designed around a business school campus. Obviously we took away some learnings from this thing – you don’t think it was just done with the idea of letting you have fun, roaming around the grounds on a sunny day and carrying a scruffy looking flag with feathers on them, did you? Our day of fun was capped with a dinner with our LTs and one second year at one of the many hip eat outs at C’ville followed with what else, but a trip to the nearest pub - this time it was McGrady’s and not the D fav of Biltmore (think $2 pitchers of beer)… fine place that one!
The weekend had some activities organized by the SY students here. The various events up for grabs were community service, tubing on the James River, wine tasting, trip to Monticello, hiking and a few more. Obviously ALL events were overbooked! Saturday evening was another picnic at Flagler courtyard, this time for the FYs and SYs to meet.
So if you thought D-life was all about fun and picnics and booze, then THINK AGAIN. It’s about cases and cases and more cases and still some more cases that will drive you nuts as you try to figure them out and make you go “god damn it, how come I missed that one” when the professor (or some brilliantly smart student) solves it in class the next morning. But the best thing about it is that the classes are so much more rewarding and you actually come away from them knowing a whole bunch more than you did to begin with and you have no idea how! The professors here are absolutely up there and some of them employ very unique methods of cold calling! Perhaps more on that in a separate post – I still have two more professors to “discover”.
Career fair signups are warming up now and I’m kind of getting the feeling that they’re going to stress me out quite a bit. Of course, the whole concept of networking is so alien to us internationals and that in itself is a little bewildering. Darden seems really focused at helping us through this process and in the coming days I hope to be working more closely with the Career Development team to help me with my internship hunt.
Before I sign out, I have to tell you about how every minute feels precious at this place. You could be doing so much and all you’re thinking about is when you’ll go to bed… The day sometimes seems longer than it is, yet it just flies by as you tackle your daily workload which, by the way, is seeing a constant upward trend and refuses to come down. I remember reading about Black November on the blog of a Darden (now) SY. I’m guessing that we’re building up to that one. Here’s where I sign out to go tackle my Decision Analysis case for tomorrow.