Do you remember those books called Choose Your Own Adventure? They were typically mysteries, thin paperbacks targeted towards the 8-12 year old intermediate reader set with titles like “Space and Beyond” and “Mystery of the Maya”. I loved them. The best part was that you are the main character, presented with some background, and then you have to choose between two or more options. Whichever option you chose then directed you to another page in the book with another scenario, and so on until your adventure ended. There were 30 possible endings! So exciting!
Right now at Darden is a little like Choose Your Own Adventure. We’re almost done with the third quarter, and there are lots of choices on deck. Choices that, depending on your perspective, will have Serious Ramifications For The Future (or not), will be Career Defining (or not) and will hopefully yield Desirable Full Time Employment (or not). These choices are mostly job-related, but for the first time we also get to partially deviate from the core curriculum (gasp!) and pick electives (double gasp!). This is fun. Although I acknowledge the necessary evil of a grounding in basic Accounting, and realize I really needed to take it to understand stuff, I’m sure glad it’s over. And likely won’t voluntarily revisit it. Electives open to First Years build on the core curriculum topics (Finance, Economics, Communications, Marketing, Decision Analysis) but are getting more focused. In addition to the required Leading Organizations and Ethics classes, my electives are Marketing Intelligence, Strategic Communications, and Entrepreneurial Thinking. Doesn’t that sound a LOT better than Accounting? And, bonus – no more 8AM class. I have visions of finally getting back into a good morning gym habit, hooray!
Other choices… I’ve been surprised at the number of leadership opportunities available here. It’s time for elections for the Darden Students’ Association, as well as all of the club positions (Marketing Club, Finance Club, General Management Club, Consulting Club, Media, Entertainment & Sports Club, etc.). I know that Darden’s mission statement is all about developing principled leaders, but it’s really amazing to see how many positions are open, as well as see the healthy competition for each emerge. I’m thrilled to have run and won the position of Vice President, Social for the whole school. Wow! (I have grand and fabulous plans, of course.)
And, top of mind for everyone is the job choice. Of course we came to business school to get a great education, to learn tools that will refine our natural ability to conduct business-like activities, and to make us more competitive in the job market. But let’s not kid ourselves. Finding and getting jobs is a huge part of why we’re here. Some might say THE reason we’re here. How to go about this? First step – get a great MBA internship. The traditional way is this: typically, large companies who value MBAs offer summer internships, a 10-week taste of post-MBA job responsibilities for the student, and a 10-week are-you-any-good-do-we-like-you-enough-for-a-full-time-gig evaluation period for the company. If the process is working properly, most MBA internships are supposed to yield a full-time offer after graduation. So, the choice of where to summer is a big one. I can’t decide how to treat this decision. Is what I do this summer directional as to how I’ll spend the next 5-10 years? Maybe. Does it professionally or personally define me forever? Gosh, I hope not. Is it a chance to maybe try something I’ve never tried before, and branch out from my previous corporate life? Could be. Is it a choice to be considered seriously? Of course. I’m pretty sure it’s Choose Your Own Adventure all over again, just higher stakes.