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Virginia Darden MBA Sample Essays

Virginia Darden MBA Applications Essays 2023-24

Community of Belonging:
What would you want your classmates to know about you that is not on your resume? (100 words)
Inclusive Impact: Please describe a tangible example that illuminates your experience promoting an inclusive environment and what you would bring to creating a welcoming, global community at Darden. (300 words)
Careers With Purpose:
At this time how would you describe your short-term, post-MBA goal in terms of industry, function, geography, company size and/or mission and how does it align with the long-term vision you have for your career? (200 words)
Remember: We are not reading your responses with a prescribed or “right” answer in mind. We want to get to know you, not us. These questions are our opportunity to begin to get a sense of your voice, your perspective, your experiences and your writing ability. In fact, how you choose to answer a particular question is often as insightful as what you choose to write about. The best essay responses are those that are responsive to the question but also authentic and genuine. Whenever possible, show don’t tell.

Virginia Darden MBA Winning Sample Essay – 1

Darden MBA Essay 1: What is your short-term, post-MBA career goal and why? (150 words)

A strong desire to create a visible impact led me to pursue a career as a structural engineering consultant. Post-MBA, I want to transition to a management consultant.

During my seven-year career, I have had the privilege of working on complex and high-profile projects such as Disney theme parks and hospitals. My current experience has allowed me to lead teams and build a robust set of transferable analytical, problem-solving, and client management skills.

I want to expand my horizons beyond the construction industry and drive high-impact projects with steep learning curves. Management consulting would be a perfect place to gain exposure to other industries and work on large-scale strategic projects. Such projects can help me develop versatile thought-processes and critical-thinking approaches for long-term success. Therefore, working at a top consulting firm after my MBA would be a step in the right direction.

Darden MBA Essay 2: Please provide an example of a situation in which you have made a meaningful impact. (200 words) leadership and impact

I am a big believer in paying it forward. I am an alumnus of Virginia Tech, and for the past three years, I have been actively involved in mentoring students pursuing Civil Engineering. 

Last year, I got an opportunity to hire, develop, and lead my own team. We wanted to hire recent graduates, and Virginia Tech was my default choice. I got the buy-in from my manager and took the initiative to recruit at least three students per year from the Civil Engineering Department. Two fellow Hokies and I represented my company by conducting on-site networking and interview sessions at two exclusive events. We conducted 25 interviews and meet my goal of hiring three people from Virginia Tech. This has allowed me to forge an ever-lasting recruiting relationship with Virginia Tech. 

Even when we are not hiring in a recession like now, I am still engaged with Hokie students. I shared tips from my professional career and delivered two technical presentations for a virtual internship program this past summer. 

The impact of this was three-fold. I helped young graduates shape their career path, gave back to my alma mater, and enriched my company with excellent young graduate engineers. 

Darden MBA Essay 3: Share a time in which you engaged with a perspective, identity, community, or experience that was different from your own and how it impacted your worldview. (200 words)

Even though I come from a middle-class family in a small Indian city, I have always been acutely aware of the privilege I have had and strived to work for the betterment of less fortunate humans.

During my bachelor’s, I spearheaded a project with three engineering students to develop a low smoke emission mechanism for low-cost wood-fueled cooking stoves, which were widely used in rural North India. Phillips later adopted this innovation in their stove design. This was a high-impact social project that helped reduce smoke’s adverse health effects for thousands of low-income families with limited healthcare access.

While working in Noida (India), a city notorious for high crime rates, especially against women, I decided to pilot a project to provide inexpensive and safe transportation for women. After performing extensive background checks, we hired unemployed migrants and trained them to become drivers, thus helping them upskill and become employable.

These ventures helped me to empower people who were not as fortunate as I was. These experiences made me humble and appreciated more what I have. When the autorickshaw drivers told me that they could make ends meet much better than before, it gave me immense satisfaction that I was doing my bit to better the world around me.

Darden MBA Essay 4: Tell us what you would want your learning team to know about you – personal, professional, or both. (100 words)

I have a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech, and as an engineering consultant, I have worked on Star Wars Land at Disney parks in Florida and California and the Hospital Expansion project at UVA. Fun fact – My signature is imprinted on a steel beam used in the new Hospital Tower.

On a personal note, I have lived in Virginia for seven years now, and my wife is currently pursuing her MBA from Darden. I have traveled to more than 30 US states and five international countries, and I love cooking North Indian and Indo-Chinese cuisines.

Virginia Darden MBA Winning Sample Essay – 2

Darden MBA Essay 1: What is your short-term, post-MBA career goal and why? (150 words)

I have 4 years of consulting experience in a boutique consulting firm – ZS Associates. Post-MBA, I would like to continue in the consulting domain and work with one of the top 3 Consulting firms, McKinsey,  Bain, or BCG, preferably in the Pharmaceuticals vertical.

At ZS, I have worked on diverse business problems with global Pharma clients and developed business-focused technology solutions. The experiences have helped me gain valuable exposure to commercial operations and client-facing skills. 

Post my MBA,  I would like to continue building on my pre-MBA skill set and broaden my horizons to understand the 360-degree view from a strategy and operations perspective for the pharmaceutical industry. I believe a strong consulting experience, both as an analyst and as a management consultant can help me chart a clear path to a partner position in the long term. 

Darden MBA Essay 2: Darden strives to identify and cultivate responsible leaders who follow their purpose. Please provide an example of a situation in which you have made a meaningful impact. (200 words)

My father had a long and successful career in hospitality, and he used to contribute to the local restaurant community by providing pro-bono consulting services. My father passed away in 2014 and I decided to pick up a pro-bono consulting effort from where he left off. 

The dine-in restaurant sector in India is seeing a massive downslide in customer footfall because of the burst of online food delivery startups like Uber Eats and Zomato. Utilizing my consulting experience from ZS Associates, I have been helping 3 restaurants since 2017 to better manage their operations and increase revenue. 

At one restaurant, at the back end, we analyzed data from cash registers to identify food/order patterns and optimize the amount of food preparation and inventory models. On the front end, we converted the space into a co-working space to better utilize the large sitting areas.

By employing this two-pronged approach, we managed to increase revenue by ~20% in two months. This has given me an opportunity to give back to the hospitality community, that my father served for 40 years, and at the same time make a meaningful contribution to a struggling family-owned business.

Darden MBA Essay 3: Diversity and inclusion are critical to our mission and they work best when they are an integral and celebrated part of our community

Share a time in which you engaged with a perspective, identity, community, or experience that was different from your own and how it impacted your worldview. (200 words)

In 2011, I co-founded Vendority to financially uplift the homeless people by providing them handcarts to sell fruits and earn a living. The sight of physically able people begging for necessities was always disturbing to me and that’s why we focused on enabling them to earn a living by selling fruits (a low cost and low skill entry business).

We believed everyone would support this cause, but only after a few weeks, our perception changed when the sellers started reporting harassment by local goons. Goons would often take fruits without paying and upon resistance would threaten the vendors. Some Goons demanded weekly maintenance/protection money for operating the business. We approached the local police but even with the best security efforts the vendors continued to face harassment, most went back to begging, and eventually, we were forced to close the initiative. Vendors positively impacted two people during two months of operations.

This was my first brush with implementing a social initiative, the project failed but strengthened my resolve to create a positive social impact in the future. The experience truly enhanced my appreciation for those who dedicate their lives to social work and left an indelible mark on my personality.

Darden MBA Essay 4: Tell us what you would want your learning team to know about you – personal, professional, or both. (100 words)

I would like my learning team to know two things about me:

  1. I am big-time Cyber Sports and volleyball enthusiast: I have participated in World Cyber Games state finals for Counter-Strike and I have played volleyball up to zonal level, led my school and college teams in multiple tournaments.
  2. Foody/Food lover: I am a food lover and I have a very emotional connection with the food/restaurant industry. I am always up for trying exquisite cuisines and would love to explore all the restaurants in Virginia and homemade foods from my culturally diverse peers at Darden.

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