As we – the Darden class of 2013 – prepare to kick off our 2nd semester, it’s fitting to pause and review the semester that went by and acknowledge the key lessons it taught us. My classmate and fellow student blogger, Brian Cramer set the ball rolling by eloquently listing some the memorable business lessons he learnt in the Darden classroom. Focusing on learning beyond the classroom, here are my key takeaways:
- Organize yourself! Darden demands self-organization and time-management from Day 1. Students are challenged to develop their own ways to manage the continuous stream of curricular and extra-curricular activities at school. I found myself relying heavily on my online calendars and other tools like physical and virtual files/folders to tame the complexity of my day and reams of the data I needed to manage. Funny things however is that once you develop your method to overcome the madness, the system mercilessly points out the shortcomings in your approach and forces you to rethink. Thus starts the process of self-‘Kaizen’ – a concept I was blissfully unaware of before I took the Operations class at Darden. Nonetheless, a concept which nicely describes the iterative improvement I have undertaken (yes, it’s still work in progress) to work productively at school.
- Depend on others, be dependable. If you’re I-think-I-can-do-it-all-by-myself kind of person, Darden will change your thinking in days. While discussing the academic workload Darden students face, Prof. Martin Davidson made a cheeky yet a very profound remark and I’m paraphrasing here:
“Darden consciously loads you with more work than you can possibly handle. The key is be smart about handling it”
That key for me is to leverage your teachers, section-mates, learning-teammates to expedite and validate your learning. As a corollary, whenever possible, you should be willing to help out your classmates need you. This two-way commitment form the backbone of Darden’s famed collaborative culture.
- Make lifelong friends. The last 6 months at Darden has seen us do it all: grapple with the intense classwork; dread and then eventually trump the end-term examinations; participate or cheer for our favorites in the various extra-curricular activities; and try hard to find ourselves a suitable internship job. The best part is that we’re all in this together and this empathy breeds very strong bonds of friendships. So take time out to cement these bonds even further!