Mick Denner (’18) came to Darden with a unique story and the goal of making a big career change. He was a trained singer in classical and opera music and considered pursuing music professionally after college, when his plans suddenly changed his sophomore year. “I felt a calling to put my music career on hold and go serve,” said Denner. After obtaining his undergraduate degree in Music Education, Denner joined the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served as a Combat Engineer Officer for six years before deciding to pursue his MBA at Darden.
Being in the military helped him to develop strong leadership skills, and he wanted to carry those skills into the private sector. He knew that in order to make this transition, he needed to learn about the world of business.
“The Darden Military Association (DMA) was a huge draw for me. I was concerned about how I would transition from wearing a uniform everyday to being a student and pivoting my career, and I was immensely comforted knowing the DMA was there as a strong and established organization that would help me make the transition. Specifically, I was excited about the resources within the DMA that would help me translate my resumes, cover letters, and my story as a leader in a way that would make sense to companies,” said Denner. “A lot of the reasons that drove me to join the Marine Corps are what drove me to Darden. It has a reputation for being extremely tough and for being an MBA that you really earn. Given my untraditional background, I knew I needed a school that emphasized the academic aspect of the MBA to learn business skills. Darden was the absolute best fit in this regard and many others.”
Denner came to Darden with the goal of becoming a management consultant. However, after attending the Career Development Center’s (CDC) Career Discovery Forum panels his first few weeks at school, he realized that the general management and corporate finance industries aligned more closely with his interests and what he wanted in the next step of his career.
Denner found a lot of support as he began preparing to make a career change. “Margaret Weeks, my career advisor, and Katie White, my CDC Second Year coach, were both outstanding. Margaret answered any question I had and showed a high level of dedication to helping me get where I wanted to go. Katie gave me extremely honest feedback on my resumes, cover letters and story,” said Denner.
His hard work and preparation paid off, and he landed an internship at Northrop Grumman, where he has served as a business management intern with a focus on their finance operations this summer.
Denner offered a few pieces of advice for the Class of 2019. “Start making connections and asking questions early about what careers look like in particular industries. Darden alumni are happy to speak with Darden students and help you as you gather information for your career search.”
Denner will serve as a CDC Second Year coach this upcoming year to pay it forward to future students as they begin to figure out their next career moves.