In just one year at the University of Virginia (Darden) Kayla Cartwright (Darden ‘16) navigated her first semester, landed a consulting internship, traveled the world, and became President of the Graduate Women in Business (GWIB) Learn how Kayla navigated her first semester with the help of her trusty dog Wallace.
Name: Kayla Cartwright
School: University of Virginia (Darden)
Summer Internship: Deloitte Consulting LLP
Here’s what you need to know
My first semester of business school was as rigorous, and time-consuming (nearly every minute is packed, and most hours overbooked), but not as stressful as I thought it could be. I came from education, so it was nice to only be responsible for myself (and for contributing to my classmates’ learning) for once. Like any challenging but worthwhile experience there were both highs and lows. Accounting was like a foreign language to me, and I had taken it before in undergrad. Luckily, I had Learning Team (LT) members and faculty who were helpful. One of the best parts of b-school has been connecting with a variety of people, including classmates from around the world—a gift of B-school if you take advantage of the opportunity.
Getting to know classmates is not simply fun; it is critical. I remember being cold-called in Financial Management & Planning during the first week of the course. I don’t think that anyone, including me, expected me to be able to explain how to calculate WACC (weighted average cost of capital). Luckily, my awesome LT member (shoutout to Ameya Gokarn!) took an extra half hour the night before teaching me making me practice going through the steps to calculate WACC. So, I shockingly crushed the cold call and my confidence and interest in all things finance went from zero-100, all thanks to a helpful classmate and b-school friend.
Your first semester of business school is extremely busy, so enjoying your free time is important to keeping you well. I brought my dog to school, and lived closer to the downtown area, so taking downtime was required and really beneficial/refreshing. On class days, I always took my dog for a few walks, and was able to check out different parts of the city and main campus (called grounds here in Charlottesville. I also made time to work out, go to yoga, hike, check out lots of restaurants, hang out with friends, go to UVA basketball games, and go to concerts. I went on all the outdoor club trips and even finally learned how to ski.
6:15: Wake up, walk dog, workout sometimes, get ready
7:35: Meet my neighbor and drive to school
7:50 Get free coffee (Darden life!) and breakfast at the café, go to classroom & say hey to friends
7:58 Make sure I have an idea of what I will say or ask if I get cold called
8-9:25: First Class
9:30-10: First Coffee—Get more coffee, say hello, run errands, listen to announcements, connect with company representatives, second years, others
10-11:20: Second Class
11:20-11:40: Get more coffee. And usually an early lunch from the café hot bar.
11:30-1:10: Third Class
1:10-1:30: Send out some e-mails, make some calls, get my life together
1:30-2:30: Usually a club meeting, company briefing, training, networking or other event
3:30-4:30: read cases somewhere on grounds
4:30-5:30: go home, walk dog, read more cases
6:00-7:40: Go to company networking event, eat free food for dinner (I hardly cooked this year)
7:40-8:00: Drive back to Darden for Learning Team, get myself organized
8:00-9:30: Learning Team. Our team was strong at brevity, though our jokes took up the first 20 minutes. Some learning teams were longer/shorter
9:30-10: Do a quick workout in the gym next to Darden (better than nothing?)
10:00-11:20 Drive home, stop at the 24 hour Harris Teeter if I need something
11:20-11:50 Wrap up any work, head in for the night…
Your first semester will be a challenging experience. Here are some thoughts on how to put your best foot forward and truly get the most out of the experience.
How I survived my first year
- Took breaks throughout the day/week and didn’t feel guilty about it
- Had as much fun as I could with new friends & visiting friends
- Asked for help, asked questions, drank lots of coffee
- Managed my e-mail and recruiting/networking in a systematic way
- I never did school work on Saturdays. Saturdays were for relaxing, exploring or spending time out with friends
- Read the news when you have downtime—it’s easy to get stuck in a b-school bubble. Try to connect what you’re learning (both in class and outside) to what is happening in the real world.
- Please, please, please: make it a point to become friends and learn about the experiences of people different than you. This might be the first/only time you are in an environment with people from other economic backgrounds, races, ethnicities, countries, life experiences. Do yourself and your school community a favor and be intentional about inviting people different from you to socialize and work with you on group projects, etc. Everyone made it to your school for a reason, figure out what that reason is; otherwise, you are wasting a huge opportunity.
- To women: we have a tendency to couch our words and/or speak up less. Make your point without apology or framing, you’ll come off as more confident and your classmates will hear your point. Speak early, richly and often.
If you get overwhelmed just remember..
- Trust your learning teammates and be okay learning from them if you can’t get through all of the reading in one night. Its good practice for learning from your network in careers like Consulting, where you’ll have to become expert on a topic quickly and then potentially share your knowledge with clients the next day.