By Mary Shea Watson

This June, recently admitted members of the University of Virginia Darden School of Business Class of 2021 gained access to an exciting new resource to prepare for their MBA internships and post-graduate careers. Through a new online, self-directed recruiting prep program created by the School’s Career Development Center, rising First Year students will be able to continue building on the record-breaking career success of the Classes of 2018 and 2019.

The powerful new tool, titled Career Development WhyFinding (CDWhy), features engaging videos, interactive activities and curated resources designed to jump-start students’ MBA career exploration and prematriculation recruiting efforts. With the launch of CDWhy, Darden joins a small cadre of top graduate business schools offering pre-MBA career programs to incoming students well in advance of the start of the academic year.

“Year after year, we hear from Darden students that they wish they had begun preparing for MBA recruiting in the summer before their First Year,” said Assistant Dean of Career Development Jeff McNish. “We are thrilled to now offer this service to Darden’s career-driven students so that they can gain a head-start in the competitive MBA recruiting process.”

Expert Counseling and Coaching from Darden’s Team of Career Advisers

Each of the program’s three modules — titled Purpose, Pathways and Presence — feature videos led by an expert from the CDC’s team of career advisers.

In the Purpose module, general management and entrepreneurship career adviser Reid Thompson (MBA ’09) helps students thoughtfully engage in self-reflection and learn to articulate their purpose. Paul Reeder (MBA ’98), senior director of finance careers, brings his 20-year financial services career experience to the Pathways module, in which students explore the variety of industries and functions hiring MBA graduates. After an 18-year consulting career at global and boutique firms, Christy Gunville, senior director of consulting careers coaches students in the Presence module to build critical elements of their recruiting presence, such as LinkedIn profiles and MBA resumes.

“With a wide variety of activities and resources integrated into the program, CDWhy enables students to dive deep into areas where they can use tailored support,” said Gunville. “Students who make time for CDWhy this summer will have a real advantage when it comes to getting ready for recruiting in the fall.”

Valuable Insights from Darden Students and Alumni

Before launching the program, dozens of current Darden students with diverse backgrounds and interests had the opportunity to contribute to CDWhy content and inform program design. Dozens more Darden alumni employed across industries around the world shared “day in the life” stories to provide rising First Years with a sense of what they might experience during an average day or week in a similar role.

Bookending CDC adviser-led videos are student stories from several Darden Second Year students offering related job search strategies and advice.

In one video, Jordan Clarke (MBA ’19), who is entering a full-time role with BCG, shared this advice: “From Second Years, to the CDC, to student clubs — and professors, too — there are so many resources that you can tap into at Darden. But it’s incumbent upon you to tap into them. Be proactive in your pursuit.”

Developments for Future Executive MBA and Master’s in Business Analytics Students

In order to help realize the career aspirations of students in Darden’s Executive MBAand Master of Science in business analytics (MSBA) programs, the CDC plans to launch program-specific versions of CDWhy. These tailored iterations will further the CDC’s commitment to delivering personalized, student-centric career services.

“Each year, the CDC expands its customized services to meet the needs of Darden’s ambitious and creative students,” said Kellogg Leliveld, director of career education and advising and CDWhy project manager. “It has been a joy planning and implementing this new program to continue empowering our MBA students on their unique career journeys.”

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.