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Shawn, thanks for your willingness to answer questions.
I have a couple of questions:
1. What were the primary influencing factors that caused you to decide on Darden? 2. What cubs or organizations are you involved with (if any), and how have you seen that involvement compliment your B-school education?
Question #1: I was very fortunate to have multiple options. There were many reasons I chose Darden, but it can pretty much be summarized into three primary factors:
Academics (Case Method / Rigor / Faculty). I really enjoyed how engaged the class was when I visited. This was much more suited to my style since I get bored and lose focus easy. I need to be constantly on my toes and feel like I'm involved in the lesson as opposed to falling asleep during a (primarily) one way lecture. Furthermore, I knew Darden had a reputation of being extremely rigorous ("Darden Boot Camp"). This was desirable for me. I'm sure all schools are challenging, and in no way am I saying that Darden is in fact tougher, but my thinking was that if there were any chance that being more rigorous, as its reputation would suggest, would make me a better long term businessman, than it was worth the short term sacrifice. Additionally, Darden's Faculty was ranked #1
Community. Charlottesville is consistently ranked as the #1 (or #2) small town in America. That said, Cville definitely has all the amenities and shops that you could ever want/need, including an airport which is just 15 min from grounds. It also has very mild winters, beautiful colors in the fall and the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop. The facilities are top notch, and in Jeffersonian Architecture. It's quite enchanting. Also, having gone to a city-based commuter school for undergrad, I wanted to immerse myself in an environment that would allow me to focus on school, and more importantly, build long lasting relationships with peers that I could then rely on in the future. Darden has definitely not disappointed on this point. I can't say enough good things about the Alumni network. They NEVER hesitate to host a networking call or bend over backwards to try and get a fellow Dardenite in the door. Furthermore, Darden Alumni consistently rank among the top 3 schools in the nation for the percentage of alumni that give back via financial support. This spoke to me. I think this is a bi-product of the total experience Darden offers. In fact, Darden was recently ranked by Bloomberg as #1 in Student Satisfaction. It also was recognized as #1 in Education Experience by The Economist. These rankings resonated with me and made sense given the high Alumni contribution rate.
Career Placement. Darden has, more or less, access to the same recruiters as any other top 15 business school. It's terrific for consulting, investment banking, general management & marketing rotational programs and brand management. I knew I would have access to almost any company I was interested in. Furthermore, I found it impressive that the Career Services Placement was ranked #5 in the nation by Financial Times. In the end, its all about getting a good job.
As a second year student, I've decided to take an active role in the Darden community (Darden is primarily run by SY students). I am the VP of Events for the Darden Military Association (DMA), and VP of Admissions for the Hispanic American Network at Darden (HAND). I've also been involved in: General Mgmt, Marketing, Consulting, Tech, Healthcare, Outdoors, Toastmasters and Wine Culinary & Cuisine Clubs. Each club has been beneficial. The academic/function specific clubs compile resume books that are given to recruiters of that industry. They also hold conferences where those industry recruiters come speak to students about industry trends, opportunities and challenges. These conferences were very useful for me to decide where I wanted to be (and not be). Also, once I decided to get into healthcare marketing, I decided to volunteer to help coordinate the annual Darden Healthcare Conference. This was a great opportunity for me to show HC recruiters that I was truly interested in HC, particularly since I had no HC experience. Partially due to this experience, I ended up interning in HC Marketing (Amgen CLP program). So, this was definitely a huge and direct impact/compliment to my B-School experience and career going forward.
Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.