Sunday, August 24, 2008

First week at Darden

I've had 2 full days of what is going to be the standard day - 5 days a week.

8 am: classes begin.

13:10: "free time" - in which I'm supposed to eat lunch and prepare my case analysis for my learning team meeting. 3 cases a day. Each case takes me 2 hours to read and prepare in a decent manner. Since I don't have that time, I spend 1 hour on each case, trying to skim through it and have some initial analysis about it. I don't seem to have time to read the extra material from the books so far due to my slow reading.Soon we'll add to this company briefings and club meetings. Good times.

19:00: Learning team meeting - where I meet with my (wonderful) team and brainstorm over each case for 1 hour.

22:00: If we finish on time - have dinner with my wife, catch up on study/reading material. Prepare for tomorrow morning and go to bed.

On Friday we had the Voyage of Discovery - a bonding, competative activity for the learning teams wrapped in the theme of the Lewis and Clark expedition. After we had our flag prepared, the trading floor opened, where we traded medicine for buffalo teeth, furs for metal etc. My team showed exceptional focus and discipline as we have in our two meetings. We ended the day with a nice dinner, where a second year joined our team and shared some of her wisdom with us.

Today started with a hiking trip in Shenandoah national park.

The day finished with a picnic in Flagler Court on the Darden grounds with all the Darden community. I returned home a little drunk, but very determined to crack the accounting case.
It's 2 am now and I have to finish a book and another case tomorrow before a BBQ at a professor's house - lunchtime tomorrow. And then, to top a nice Sunday, of course - learning team meeting.

Surviving two full days of the program gives no guaranties for this full week ahead. We already have an assignment for Wednesday consisting a 1/3 of our grade.

Fun times!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Class of 2010

Class of 2010 took the traditional photo on the steps of Sunders Hall.

In two years we'll take another photo, compare and reflect the past two years.

Follow this link to find some of the highlights.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A blast to the past

Yesterday we were given the opportunity to leave a time capsule for our future selves two years from now.
I did.
But then I had this idea, what if I could write to myself from the future. What if I now got a letter from myself in two years time. What would it say?

Dear Oren,
You are about to embark in a journey. The greatest journey you've had so far.
I don't want to spoil the surprise for you so I won't let you in on too much.
I will say this though; I had a blast. My (our) classmates are the best i could possibly ask for. I feel very lucky to have spent these past two years with such a talented, diverse group of people. I have learned so much from them and they, I hope, learned from me.
I never missed an opportunity to participate. Never sat shyly in the back, though I did sit in the back for the first quarter of the first year if I recall.

Our dean, Bob Bruner (yes he still is the dean so try to get to know him better, I was a little weak on that one this time around so you have a second chance - take it) told us (I think it was the day you were supposed to get this letter from me) a piece of wisdom from Las Vegas' casinos. It was a sign he saw over the rouletter table that said: "You must be present to win".
You remember that, right? So be present. These are only two years and they go this fast (swish!)
Be present.

I took most opportunities I had to get involved, participate, volunteer and still I feel I could have done more. So do more!
You'll have tough times, you'll have good times, but don't let any of these interfere with you taking advantage of this once in a life time experience.
Never again will you have access to such a diverse group of people, hudled together in one academic village, willing to share their knowledge and wisdom and willing to learn from one another.

Reach out.
Appreciate and enjoy.

P.S. I just got your time capsule. Thanks for the congratulations.

I really have to say this: I was young back then.
See you in two years,

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Why Darden?

Why Darden?
Because it produces the most well rounded graduates.
Because the graduates of Darden are team players, because they are embracers of diversity.
Because the high level executives coming from Darden are taking the time and effort to mentor the juniors in the company, thus gaining their respect and creating enthusiastic high performers that aspire, in turn to be like them.

Why Darden?
Because all the Darden graduates in our company are high performers with a proven track record of delivering results.

This was the general idea of what I gathered from a short video we were shown of a recruiter from one of the (if not the) best swiss banks taken when she was at Darden.

She was not paid to do this (or so we were told) and there was no pretty talking around her statements. They were direct and clear.

So why Darden?
Unless you have some of us in your organization, the best way I can answer is:
Just come and visit the campus.
You'll understand.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Here we go...

Wow! These were some intensive few weeks. Prematriculation is officially over today and tomorrow we start the school year.
I've taken some 3 day courses in accounting and economics in hope that it would boost my knowledge in the area since I have no previous experience in the financial sector.
More interesting, however, is the PCAP - Personal Career Assessment Program which was a three half day workshop of self discovery. In Darden we try to trully understand who we are, what our life themes look like and what job alligns well with our personality, expectations and aspirations (A.K.A the Darden Cookie - knowing yourself and finding the job that completes you like a broken cookie and it's other half. If you're considerind Darden, there's a slightly different reference to the cookie here you may want to read about).

We had a two day career forum where many Darden alumni and business people from different industries and roles came on campus and presented us with the career opportunities we have. We all know there's IB, consulting, marketing, GM as the main jobs, but what are these jobs actually like? What is a typical day? How do you get to a PEG? (you don't get there after school if you don't have any previous experience in the area is the answer, at least it's very unlikely). The purpose was to create a safe environment where we could actually ask about anything and open our minds to the different options and indeed there were a lot of them. It made me think about what I want to do and if I still want to. It's a good time to be at school now and it's a great place to be with so many roads open to us.

Today was the official reception of the class of 2010. I found out some stats about our class and I also found out that a fellow student blogger who happens to be on my section has already posted some of it today. So here are the stats:
We have students from all 5 continents.
Our class size is 334
We have 97 women which is 1 woman less than last years and was the highest number ever recorded in Darden.
33% of us are international
Our Average GMAT is 692 and our Avg GPA is 3.35 .
28 is our average age with a range of 22-34.

We were 9 people competing for each addmitted student.

We got a world record holder, college athletes, Peace Corps Volunteers, various military and citizen pilots, a submariner and more and more.

We got our sections assignments today. I'm in section D. I found out that a lot of the Camp Darden refugees* are with me in D so it was great to have already known my peers who will be with me this year. It seems that last year's class started to get to know each other when school started, at least someone told me, but we all were already hanging out together these past weeks. Maybe it's the social online networks or the new DardenPortal, but it feels to me like we got something special forming here.

Tomorrow is our first day. We'll also be getting our learning teams assignments tomorrow so I'll know who are the 4 people I'll be spending 4 hours a day or more with, learning, eating, drinking, fighting... you get the picture. It's exciting.

A lot of things are going through my mind these past few days. It feels like being on a roller coaster at the top just before the first big slope down.
click, click, click... wheels rolling and here we go...

* Veterans of the legendary Camp Darden

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Camp Darden

Darden is known for its rigorous program. It was actually a part of why I chose Darden. I like to push myself to the extreme, testing my limits. So I was planning on August 18th as the start date. What I didn't take into account is the load I'll have during the pre-matriculation period. According to the wide recommendation for people with no finance/economics background, I registered for the economics and accounting pre-mats. I also took the career orientation workshop and attended some of the international workshops, the last one's theme was "why are americans like that?". As a dual citizen, I play both sides of the field so I switch between international and american at my convenience. There's a lot of red tape involved in being a dual citizen, but I won't write about it now.

To sum it all up I've had classes at 8:00 am up until around 16:00 including Saturday (!) and that has left me little time to finish up on my Darden assignments. There's a checklist provided by Darden with a time consuming list and at the end of it they told us to relax and enjoy the rest of the summer, which kind of made me laugh as I was reading it in my war zone of an appartment.

Surprisingly, the pre-mats turned out to be a lot of fun. The Dardenites that were around the past weeks in Charlottesville started going out, having parties, going bowling, having more parties and there were also some parties. What started as a mailing list that kept on growing as more people turn out in C-Ville and more events are added to the mixer and was later transfered to a google group is now known as Camp Darden.

Every day involves at least one of those activities usually ending up pretty late and the next morning people actually appear in class at 8:00 am. i didn't have the American college experience (beer pong is unheard of in Israel) so I'm having a lot of fun experiencing these now.

A few nights ago I attended an Edward Fourtyhands for the first time and besides the fact that the only 40 oz. bottles I found were bud & bud lite it was great. Besides being just great people, class of 2010 turned out to be a real fun bunch as well.

Now all that's left is to finish all of my assignments for tomorrow in the half day that still remains of this beautiful Sunday :P

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Utility day

Today was dedicated to utilities. It took me more time than I expected it to, but it was a good experience. The concept of marketing in the States is so much more developed than what we had back in Israel. See, in Israel - a very small country where everybody knows everybody - you always know where the best price is or at least where to find the best price. Price is the #1 factor when purchasing. Right after that is reputation which quickly flows from mouth to ear and therefore is almost equal to relationship (past or present relationship you have with the seller or provider of service). For example, we all hate our cable operator (in Israel we have one cable operator* and one Satelite operator). They "forget" to tell you that the special deal you're on expired and simply charge you more without notifying you repeatedly. The digital TV gets stuck a lot. The box set has A detector for food so that whenever you bring food to the TV room, the VOD stops working. I guess it's because it's not healthy to eat and watch TV.
The cable company is called HOT and there's even a website called I hate HOT

Back to the point, due to a long lasting (bad in this case) relationship with the company I'd prefer not to use their services. However, if the prices are seriously lower (like 33% than the competitor Satelite TV) I may get cable.

Today I experienced a different way of making decisions. I was connecting to my power provider and when I was done, was automatically transfered to a partner that can refer me to different service providers. Since I'm moving in, this is logical that I'll need these and rather than searching for them, they just appear at the other end of the phone line.

Another experience was when i was comparing quotes for my car insurance, getting one quote, I wanted to seek other's to compare. The customer service rep almost left me no choice but to agree that he calls me back in an hour, which is logical, and thanked me for allowing him to, which was weird. Before he let me go though, he spent like 30 seconds on selling me the strong points for getting insurance from the company he works for. He did that so convincingly that in my mind a feeling of trust and the idea that they are always available for me 24/7 and will actually help when I need them existed. Thinking back these were exactly the points the rep repeated with much charisma.

Maybe in Israel we don't know how to do that. Maybe we can't bullshit or we all know it's bullshit so we feel that it's stupid or empty. I ended up buying from that guy although his quote was a few bucks higher than the competition.

I meant to write that the day was productive, but the fact is that I only managed to get renters insurance and some furniture purchased. I still have a lot of summer reading and 2 prematriculation tests to do before I am allowed to take classes. I'll be renting a truck (yes you can drive a truck in the States with the same license!) and driving to Charlottesville with all my stuff to my new apartment (that will only be available the day after). Meanwhile Camp Darden** is still up. We drove to C'Ville*** on Friday to attend a party which was a lot of fun. Class of 2010 seem like a terrific bunch.

* There used to be a few companies, but they all united to one company - I think it was just admitting that there really isn't any competition so why fake it - but it's just my opinion
** Group activities of Dardenites in C'Ville during prematriculation such as pool/parties, bowling, pubs, golf, etc.
*** Charlottesville, VA
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