Monday, October 20, 2008

The Best Professors in the World

In all the havoc and the routine of it, I sometimes forget to appreciate it. 

They invite us to their homes, they participate in our events, they are always accessible and will always find the time and they are with us every day. 

They are the best professors in the world. Recently ranked #1 professors in the world by Princeton review (up from #2) Darden’s professors are one more reason why Darden is such a great program. Yes, they have their research, but it is not why they are at Darden. Our professors are here because they love to teach. As students, we don’t want to feel that classes are simply an obstacle a professor has to overcome in order to go back to his or her research. We want fully engaged professors, that don’t just teach a class because they have to, but teach it because they want to. But we actually have more than we asked for: we have professors who teach because they love to.

There are no office hours for professors at Darden. Instead, their door is always open and they will always find the time for students. The other day after class, I still didn’t have something sit right. The professor invited me to his office when I’m done with classes. “we’ll walk through the numbers, you’ll understand”.

Darden professors are more than instructors. They are fully involved and engaged.

The other night, our professor showed up in our learning teams some time before 10pm. He was on his way back from Tennis and wanted to see how we were doing with our assignment.

In the last day of classes, we all came wearing our section’s T-shirts. One of our professors, of course, was dressed in business attire.  Jokingly, our section rep asked if he didn’t get the email. Our professor seemed surprised that there was an email. Five seconds later, he unbuttoned his shirt to reveal our section T-shirt underneath.

During our Darden-cup games, we get double participation points if professors attend. And they do.

If you’re looking for the best class experience, with the best professors in the world, you can stop looking. But why take my word for it? Schedule a class visit and judge for yourself.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Work hard & Party hard

In the rigorous program at Darden we work hard, but we also party hard. My ears were just recovering from TNDC, where a classmate’s band –Die Manic was playing, and I was back in class for the ‘Crack the case workshop’ learning how difficult case interviews are going to be. In the evening, it was time for the 100-case party – a 20 year old tradition of celebrating

 completion of 100 cases. This year we had an 80’s theme. What could be better than a full night with the best era of music the world has ever listened to?

The buses took us to an unknown location in an attempt to reduce the number of people driving there. I find it amazing that everyone just took a break from worrying about the financial crisis, the job search, exams and duties and was having plain fun. 

Only 7/8 to go!

The first Quarter is over and before we knew it, exam week began and ended. Last year I’ve read Darden student bloggers that mentioned that exam period is the easiest period and that not a lot of studying is actually necessary because if you’ve worked hard during the quarter, done your cases and were involved in class discussions, the material will already be in your head. These students also mentioned that they had a hard time believing it when they were told that exam period is the nicest of times until they experienced it. So I decided to break the cycle. I already believed it and guess what… I wasn’t wrong. The case method really works. We’ve learned so much during the quarter and it sticks. It’s pretty amazing. With one exam a day, equaling to 1/3 of the daily load during the quarter, less learning team time less briefings life gets real good. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Utilization 2.7?!

We just finished an excercise in Ops, where some of the stations' utilizatoin rate went above 100% and blew up the queue size and queue wait formula, meaning the queue is growing infinitely since the incoming job rate is greater than the stations capacity.

This is what the past few days have been like. Too many assignments for the measly 24 hours a day the earth's sping gives us. There's a meteorite enterng the atmoshphere tonight, maybe it will slow the spin down a bit, giving me the 3 extra hours I need per day. 

I have a presentation for DA to prepare for tomorrow, which I better do, since my DA professor stopped by our (awesome) learning team and once we've compared his reaction to the one he had for other teams, we figured we probably did a good job. 

There's  a 13.47% probability that he'll call on me tomorrow based on the fact that I already spoke and presented today, taking into account that he may be targeting my fellow team mate and not me. However, part of what we learned in DA this quarter is to look at the risk profile as well. Since I'm in fairly good standings in DA (Desicion Analysis BTW) I risk losing this and leaving a bad impression on the last class that may affect my grade. I'm mediumish risk tolerant so I'd try to give it an hour or two now (it's only midnight). 

There's another small assignment, cases for tomorrow and company research to be done.
I almost forgot about breakfast scheduled for 7am tomorrow for the DMA (Darden Military Association) with a member of Darden's board of trustees and the CEO of Prudential - John Strangfeld.

Contradictary information from 2nd years suggests different levels of difficulty next year.
Before I came to Darden I watched a short film from Darden follies called Darden Daze, which is a variation of Darden Days - the admitted student weekend at Darden.

I prefer to keep that vision of next year.

The video can be found here

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Did anybody get the plate number?

Things are happening at a frantic rate. Three weeks after we started our first year, when we were still trying to get the hang of 3 cases a day, learning team, 8 am classes etc. They came. From diffent parts of the country. From different industries. Yes, companies. There are multiple briefings every day. Sometimes we get 3 parallel and you constantly have to prioritise and drop stuff. I found myself comming unprepared to learning team meetings two days in a row and it feels aweful to let my learning team down. They are a great bunch and whenever someone is unprepared the rest cover and try to bring that person up to speed. Unfortunately for me, if I don't do the work myself I don't feel like I understand enough to participate the next day in class, but then there are more briefings and events and cases the next day. 
Darden's program is the best preperation anybody can ask for the real life. As a manager you'll have to constantly prioritise, skim where you shouldn't put much effort or delegate and drop or postpone non-critical issues. This is why Darden grads "hit the ground running".
Some grads actually said that they have so much spare time now that they are working and that everything seems easier after Darden.

This may be true, but it doesn't really help me right now.  We had the first exam this Friday and I did terrible on it. Most of us feel we did terrible and usually that's fine since there's a curve and it all gets normalized. However, I'll probably be on the lower end of that curve. 

Not all is grim. Deloitte graciously sponsored our tailgate today. Good food, good drinks and good people. I was still hung over from last night's attempt to wipe the memory of the exam from my brain, but I probably didn't kill enough brain cells. I'll keep working on it. 
The game was supposed to be a sure loss to the Maryland Terrapins so a lot of people just went home after the tailgate. Some friends and I went to the game to support our Cavaliers just to be surprised with the great turnout of the game. Our Cavaliers gave us quite a show. We won 31-0.
It was a spectacle.

Some more good news: I've been selected, along with some of my classmates to be an official blogger for Darden. This means my blog would be linked from the official Darden site.

(Look mom, I'm on TV)

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