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Real Humans of MBA Students: UVA Darden MBA Class of 2023

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uva mba class of 2023Megan Scott, UVA Darden MBA Class of 2023     

Age: 30
Hometown: My hometown is Lansing, MI, but I spent the past 12 years living in Philadelphia, PA.
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Pennsylvania where I was an English major and Cinema Studies minor.
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): Pre-MBA I spent 8 years working in Business Development at various tech companies selling software solutions. 

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I decided to pursue an MBA because I wanted to pivot careers. While working in business development was great, I reached a point where I knew this was not what I wanted to do long term and loved the lifestyle and influence of the people I was selling to who worked in Corporate Finance. To pivot to finance, I knew I needed to learn it in a classroom setting, where I could spend the time building out a foundational skillset. I think the timing of the pandemic certainly prompted me to apply when I did. I was sitting at home, not sure if the world was going to end and kept thinking: is this what I want to do forever? If I could do anything, what would it be?… and here we are. 

Why did you choose UVA Darden? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I chose Darden because of the case method and the location. The case method is used here and at Harvard and after attending a few case method introduction workshops, I knew that this would be the best way for me to learn. I love that our content is taught through conversations and that all of my classmates bring their real work experience to the table to deepen conversations. We are never being lectured to which is such an engaging way to learn.  

Most people do not know that UVA is in the middle of Virginia wine country! They call it the Napa of the East Coast because there are over 40 vineyards within 30 minutes from the school! Between the vineyards, the amazing hiking trails nearby, and the food scene I knew there would be a lot to do during my free time. I actually spent my birthday here on a hot air balloon ride over the vineyards. It is truly a beautiful place.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
I think my most valuable contribution to this class is my perspective. I come from a somewhat non-traditional background: I’m a woman, African American, worked in sales, and lived downtown in a big city for many years. In most of my discussions during cases, I reference real experiences of people I’ve met and worked with and bring my perspective to the conversation about the industries and businesses we are discussing. I think it helps my classmates think about things a little differently than they may have before and that’s a good thing. 

I also was elected to the leadership team of my section at Darden (the 70 students we take our core classes with every day) as a co-social chair, I am also a co-social chair for the 2023 Consortium class at Darden, and one of the Black Business Student Association (BBSA) First-Year Liaisons. My involvement in the social aspects of Darden is a great contribution as well because we are really a community here and I love having a hand in that. 

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
One of my hobbies is doing special-effects makeup! I have been creating spooky Halloween faces with prosthetics the past 10 years and it is literally one of my favorite times of year. 

Post-MBA career interests:
Post-MBA I plan to work in Corporate Finance. 

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I would absolutely apply again through the Consortium. This organization not only transformed the application process, but they also were extremely helpful in my assimilation into the Darden community. We met weekly to prepare for their career conference over the summer, which forced us to get to know each other. Many of my closest friends on campus I met through Consortium and I also feel more prepared for recruiting because of the work we did over the summer. 

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
If I could change one thing, I would have started working on my essays earlier. I applied to 7 schools last year, and each school has several essays they require. Working within specific word counts is challenging as well, so it is important to be thoughtful and intentional with what you write. Instead of focusing so much on my GRE score, I think it would have been valuable to focus on the other parts of the application because it truly is a holistic review process. 

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
I would have skipped the GRE if I could! After being out of school for, at the time 7 years, it really felt like heavy lifting to get back into study mode again to prepare for the exam while working full-time remotely during a pandemic. What helped me get through it though was being extremely organized. I stuck to my calendar, buckled down, and made it through.  

What is your initial impression of the UVA Darden students/culture/community? 
I was actually really surprised at how nice everyone is here. Cars frequently wait for pedestrians to cross the street, no one honks at you when you are driving, and people stop to make conversation with you at the grocery store, on campus, and everywhere in between. It’s a very happy environment here and the campus is beautiful!   

What is one thing you have learned about UVA Darden that has surprised you?
I was surprised by how genuinely nice the faculty are and how interested they are in our success. To give an example, on our 3rd day of class my accounting professor told us to put our name tents down and literally went one-by-one around our 70-person classroom and named us all by memory. It was impressive to see this and then even more impressive to hear he did it for another 70-person class the same day! I have so many more stories, but I can truly say all of my professors are incredible and want us to do well both in the classroom and in life. They are genuinely great people and frequently demonstrate their investment in us. 

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
Covid made my application process a bit more difficult because not only could I not visit the schools I was applying to in person, but when I was putting my applications together, I was on-edge. All of the uncertainty about what was happening in the world and how to move forward was nerve-wrecking and made it difficult for me to retain the information I was learning for test preparation.  

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Making friends! As simple as it sounds, I was really worried about this because I haven’t really needed to make friends over the past several years. I am so thankful to have found a community here that I have grown close to in this short period of time. I’m positive some of the people I have met will be friends for life.  

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
As crazy as this sounds, I am most excited about exams. Throughout my time here I’ve been proving to myself over and over that I can do this! It has been a steep learning curve, but I feel more and more confident with the content by the day, and I am excited to demonstrate my knowledge gained by knocking it out of the park – especially in finance! 

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.