By UVA - Darden April 6, 2017 Leave a Comment

Much like our residential students, the students enrolled in the Executive Formats of the Darden MBA come from a wide variety of backgrounds, careers, goals, and interests. We have asked several of our EMBA and GEMBA students to answer a few questions about their MBA experiences, which we will post over the coming weeks. We hope you enjoy getting to know them, and if you have any additional questions about our Executive Formats, we encourage you to schedule a conversation with a member of our Admissions Committee.

Mariana is an international, executive format student studying at Darden on an F-1 visa. There are two pathways for international students in Darden’s executive formats – One in which students reside in the United States (like Mariana) and another in which students live abroad and travel to the United States for their residencies. For additional details regarding these pathways, please click here. Please note, international students who are residing in the United States and enrolled in our executive formats are the only executive format students who are eligible to participate in an internship. If you have any questions about any of our options for international executive format students, please feel free to email us at ExecMBA@darden.virginia.edu.

Name: Mariana Santos
City: Charlottesville – originally from Sao Paulo / Brazil
Employer: Summer Internship Walmart Ecommerce*
Years of Experience: 7 years of work experience
Format/Section: EMBA Charlottesville

1. Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

I majored in Advertisement & Marketing, and after 7 years of work experience, I felt behind in my business skills. I really wanted to improve my business and analytical skills, and I knew that an MBA would help me to achieve this goal. I decided to pursue my MBA in the US, because I was interested in gaining a new mindset for approaching and solving problems, and I also wanted to experience a new culture. It has been almost one year since I started my executive MBA at Darden, and I already notice how much I’ve learned and grown.

2. Why did you choose Darden?

I chose Darden for many reasons – the faculty, the close-knit community, but the one that really stands out is the case method, which, in my opinion, is very similar to most business situations. You have to work and make decisions based on the information described in the case; sometimes you will have the right amount of information, and sometimes you have to make assumptions. And what’s even more interesting is that there is often no right or wrong answer. It’s all about how you make the case for your ideas. It always fascinates me how people with the same data can arrive at different solutions to problems.

3. What’s your favorite thing about your classmates so far?

We have a very diverse class with super talented students, and everyone has something to contribute in class. Since our program started, I have noticed how much my classmates have grown. Some have decided to start their own business, others have been promoted or started new jobs. I get excited about their achievements and I’m extremely proud of them.

4. What are you most excited about accomplishing/doing during the program?  

I came to the program knowing I wanted to work in the US, and Darden helped to achieve this goal. I had the entire support of the Career Development Center, which helped me with every aspect of the job search process, but I also had the support of Darden Alumni. They not only shared their work experience with me, but also shared advice with me on how I could improve my search.

5. What advice do you have for prospective students?

Darden will be a great experience, and you will be surprised at how time will fly. My academic advice for those that don’t have a strong background in accounting or Excel is to study and practice the basic concepts as much as possible before the program starts. In addition, try to prepare for all the cases before each residency so you can enjoy your free time with your classmates. Trust the process and be committed to your learning teams; they will help you prepare for classes.

My social advice is to enjoy every minute of this experience. It is extremely hard to balance work, family, and Darden, so when you spend your time with your classmates, try to be fully present and engage with them as much as you can.

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