Sunday, December 12, 2010


(written last Monday morning - sorry I forgot to post!)
As I stare around my apartment, I have a pretty good view of my exam existance: frozen meal boxes overflowing out of the recycling bin; the reminants of my marketing notes scattered all over my dining table; mail piled up high on the coffee table, and my clothes - well, they are everywhere.  I finished my last exam of the term last night at midnight, and after a few final recruiting events, my seminar class, and some meetings, I head back "home" for the holidays to spend time with family, visit my old coworkers, catch up with friends from the real world who I have neglected for the past three months, and of course, clean out my disasterous email inbox.

For some reason, as I sit in my window sill with a cup of tea (my favorite place in my apartment - although the last time I sat here could very well have been in September), I am a bit sad.  I can see some of my classmates walking to school for the last of their exams, while others are running around doing post exam laundry, paying rent, and finishing other chores.  It is beginning to set in, I am 1/4 of the way done with my MBA. 

In the midst of the busy days and long nights, I forgot how head over heels I have fallen for this place and the people here.  Perhaps it is because misery loves company or because we are in such close quarters all the time, but some of the friends I have made here know me as well as people who have known me my entire life.  Some of the discussions, in classes and in the hallways, have elevated and changed my thinking on my life and my values, while others have opened my eyes up to new opportunities and new passions.  The inside jokes, awkward moments, and ridiculous pictures of us in 80s costumes will likely be funny for years to come.  Anyway, 1/4 of the way done means that 3/4 is still left (do you like how my math is so sophisticated, now that I am in business school?) - so I guess it is time for me to get up, start running those errands, and get ready for a nice little break before coming back to what looks like a nutty January!  

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tomorrow is DECEMBER!?

I can't remember the last month.  The leaves have changed, the temperature is more brisk, and days are  shorter - so all the signs of fall ending are in the air - but where did November go!?  The Second Years refer to November as "Black November" - the home stretch for classes and recruiting.  I have to say, while November was clearly busy, the new schedule is indicating that these first few days of December might be our "Black November."

Our last day of classes for the semester is tomorrow and the exam period starts at 5pm.  Thursday is the first major resume and cover letter drop date for some key companies.  From there, the next week will be consumed by taking exams and writing papers, finishing up last minute recruiting pushes, the Holiday Ball (read: Darden Prom), wrapping up other classes (my seminar!), and submitting job applications (there are over 120 job opportunities that require cover letters and resumes to be submitted by December 10th). 

I will likely not be writing between now and then, so, to the prospective students reading this - good luck to those in the middle of R1 interviews and good luck to those starting to apply for the R2 application deadline.  To my FY classmates - we can do it!  These might be the 10 most intense days at Darden, but imagine what life will feel like next Friday!? ...that is, if you aren't going to Week on Wall Street and job treks...

Catch you on the flip side!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Start of a New Term

The beginning of each term at Darden feels like the start of a new school year – our short-term memory loss has kicked in full force, and the life we led week ago filled to the brim with cases, learning team, and no sleep seems like a distant memory.  It is the calm before the next storm and in a matter of hours, the first day of Term 3 classes will quickly wake us up from our dream world.

But, in the spirit of a new term, I have decided to make a few resolutions.  In addition, I polled a few of my section-mates, and am posting their resolutions as well.  Hopefully we will revisit these throughout the term, and I can give you all an update in December!

My resolutions:
1)      To spend time each day cultivating my inner introvert – business school generally, and Darden specifically, are dream environments for extroverts.  From the walk to school in the morning, to the walk home at night, and everything in the middle, we are surrounded by people and an abundance of external stimuli.  When we aren’t working, we are out socializing.  So, to maintain a balance, my first resolution for this next term is to make time every day to be alone with my own thoughts.
2)      To eat three meals a week not “on the go” – the relationship of any business school student and food is a fragile one.  Some days, we are tempted by the abundance of free food throughout the halls and eat enough for a family of four.  Other days, meals are the last thing on our minds and one snickers bar sustains us for the day.  No matter the day, the one thing between the two sets of eating habits is that meals are always on the go, in front of the computer, or multi-tasked with 17 other things.  So, to mitigate this, I resolve to eat three (non-weekend meals) not “on the go.”
3)      To do more yoga – enough said J
4)      Get to school 20 minutes early in the morning - and prep for the day!

Resolutions from some of the ladies in Section C:
·         My resolution is to maintain a balance of sleep, running/yoga/some form of regular exercise, and healthy eating amidst the craziness of this term
·         My resolution: I will find time to hit the gym at least 3 times a week, and to eat no more than 3 frozen dinners (Lean Cuisines, Smart Ones, etc.) a week! you may have guessed…the 3 is for Term 3!!
·         My resolutions: Run twice / week;  Cook dinner for myself twice / week
·         My resolutions: Get at least 1 extra case for the week done before the weekend is over; eat less of the free junk food; swim at least twice a week.
·         My resolution: to run more, and to run a half marathon in the spring!
·         My resolution: to get back on the workout train and shoot for 3 days a week!  Nothing intense but I think it will make me a happier person!
·         My resolutions: attend more dance parties, cook more, and make time for other "stuff"

Thanks to all of my contributors!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Yes, we know you are busy..."

Before I left my last organization, the CEO of the company told me to make sure I took some time to rest before starting school because, "once you get to business school, and from then onwards, your life speeds up."   After being an active undergrad, spending two years in investment banking, and then running an under-resourced program at a non-profit for a few years, I casually shrugged off his advice.  I knew what busy was.

And now I am at Darden.  Between classes, homework, extracurricular activities, recruiting, and,, my old definition of "busy" is my new description of a light day.

SO - what is all that "busy" filled with?  Well, let me highlight my three favorite things in the last few weeks:

1) Factory Tours for our Operations Class - the first year class was split up last Wednesday to visit local manufacturing plants, call centers, and distribution facilities across Central Virginia.  I could write pages about my experience, having never been to a distribution center before, but I will summarize to say, "holy moly!" - there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes to get a piece of fruit to a supermarket or a chair from an online catalog to your doorstep!

2) In Marketing, we recently did a case on Google and search engine optimization.  The next day, we didn't have a case (a rare, and cherished event), but were cryptically told to go to a larger classroom for a guest speaker.  The speaker ended up being the Managing Director of Sales at Google.  Over the class period we walked through one of the most fascinating presentations I have seen - talking about Google's approach to marketing.  I was at the edge of my chair for the entire class, definitely smiled with my eyes wide for most of the presentation...and I may have shed a tear or two watching a Google "make-your-own" commercial...

3) Class with the Dean!  This year, Darden piloted a new seminar series for first years on "Business & Success."  There are three pilot seminars with 15 students a piece and two professors in each class.  When I got to class, I learned one of the teachers is Bob Bruner, the Dean of the Darden School.  Unbelievable.  Our first class was on "greed" - we watched the documentary on Enron, The Smartest Guys in The Room, and then discussed our reactions and views on business, success, greed, power, and money.  At one point in the discussion, one of my classmates started a sentence with, "I would really have liked to ask these guys..."  After a pause in the classroom, Dean Bruner stepped in and said, "well, I sat down with a number of the Enron executives after the scandal and their reaction to..."  Our jaws of course dropped., while most of the "busy" is chaotic, and at times painful (I really thought resume draft #18 was a winner...), there are hidden moments every day that make me realize that this is the coolest experience ever.

For your amusement, a screenshot of my calendar for last week:

Monday, October 11, 2010


Hi All - welcome to my blog!  I am officially a Darden Student Blogger!

Prospective Students - as you begin or continue your business school process, I hope this blog is a helpful and genuine view of Darden and my life at business school.  If you ever have thoughts or questions, please feel free to email! 

Friends / Family - since many of you have noticed my departure from your lives over the last few weeks and months, I hope this blog is a good way for you to get a glimpse of my Darden life!  Thank you all for reading :)

Darden Blogger Profile:

Payal is a member of the Darden MBA Class of 2012 — she is excited to be back in Charlottesville as a Double Hoo! Born in New Jersey and raised in Ohio, Payal has called the D.C. suburbs home since 10th grade. After graduating from UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce, Payal moved to New York City to work as an investment banking analyst at Lehman Brothers. She left Lehman in the summer of 2008 and joined the Strategic Initiatives Group of non-profit standout TechnoServe, Inc. After the two most fun and transformative years of her life — filled with working her tail off, traveling around Africa, and most notably, hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro — Payal is excited to be grounded back in Charlottesville! 

So far, her favorite things about Darden are her incredible learning team, amazing section (yeah, Section C!) and fantastic new friends. When she is not consumed by the “Darden bubble,” Payal enjoys going to Bikram Yoga, exploring the weekly Charlottesville Farmer’s Market, eating at old favorite restaurants and hoping for the day she will have time to play a round of golf at Birdwood. Wahoowa!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Thursday.  In theory, Thursday is a glorious day - it is our last day of cases for the week!  Most of us FYs go to bed on Wednesday night after LT, smiling - as much as we have all, in some way or another, come to love and depend on our LTs, we don't have to see them again until Sunday.  Five hours and ten minutes of class tomorrow, and then we are free! Will I have time to go to the gym? To run errands? To catch up on my school work? Maybe even time to get ahead for next week? Perhaps a dinner that isnt a frozen meal!? Oh, the possibilities! And then comes Thursday morning…

I woke up this morning, walked out to my Ivy Gardens* balcony and basked in the sun for a few minutes still dreaming of the possibilities of my day. Then my iPod buzzed (I am one a proud owner of a "dumb" phone - but a few years ago I did buy an iPod Touch). My email was buzzing to remind me of my schedule for the day:

8:00-9:25am - Accounting
10:00-11:25am - Decision Analysis
11:45-1:10pm - Leadership and Organizations

My homework is done, I can handle this...especially if I crouch low during Decision Analysis.  And then came the punch:

1:30-3:00pm - Career Management Class
3:00-4:30pm - Tutoring/Q&A session (we have exams next weekend)
4:00-5:30pm - Darden Farmers Market (multitasking - grocery shopping and some socializing?)
5:30-6:30pm - Career Panel on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
6:00-8:00pm - Darden Cold Call (almost weekly social gathering of the entire Darden Community by the DSA**)
7:00-9:00pm - Section C Party at a section-mates house (hosted by him, his wife, and their 2 year old)
9:00pm onwards - TNDC***

Thank god it's Thursday?...well, if nothing else, welcome to a typical Darden day!

* Ivy Gardens: think of your freshman dorm complex - except you have your own apartment (with a balcony!).  A large proportion of Darden students choose to live in Ivy Gardens / Huntington Village, as they are the two closest complexes to the school.  Weekdays - well, you are never alone walking to or from school (not a morning person - better watch out!).  Weekends - house party central.
** DSA: Darden Student Association (our student government)
*** TNDC: Thursday Night Drinking Club

Monday, September 6, 2010

To Blog or Not to Blog?

I never thought I would start a blog.  And I actually don't believe I am starting one right instead of a blog, let's call this my attempt to stay sane through the rather crazy life I have recently embarked upon...

What crazy life, you ask?  Isn't it still summer?  What's going on?  Shouldn't I be enjoying the long weekend at the beach?  False. 

In fact, today marks the one-month anniversary of my arrival to the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.  A few short (long...) weeks ago, I arrived in Charlottesville, and three weeks ago, I started my MBA.  As I look over the whirlwind experience of the last month, there are a few things I already know about my Darden experience:

1)  Pizza will become a staple food group in my life, much to the disappointment of my mother.  From club meetings to career panels to Learning Team (LT) take-out, Dominos, Papa Johns, and Mellow Mushroom: you seem to appear at the most crucial moments of my day, and for that, I am grateful.

2)  Between studing, exercising, sleeping, eating (well), relaxing, socializing, and being involved in extra-curricular activities, success is defined by completing two, maybe three (if it's a weekend), of the aforementiond tasks in any given day.  Oh how I miss you, sleep and television...

3)  I cannot imagine a more caring group of people supporting me through the next two years.  The people within these four walls have blown me away with their intelligence, passion, and genuine concern for the students.  Coupled with the academic rigor, fabulous (and throroughly entertaining) professors, myriad of personalities in my First Year (FY) section, "Dardenisms" and never-ending list of things to do and get involved with, the Darden Experience is quickly proving to be one be one life's best.

4)  Caffeine is wonderful.

And with that, goodnight!