From Financial Collapse to Pandemic: 2008 MBA Grads Offer Advice To This Year’s Grads

A case discussion extends beyond the classroom at Darden

2008 MBAs Offer Advice To The Class of 2020

It’s an unprecedented time for MBA grads.

With many students hopeful for entering a strong job market, the COVID-19 pandemic has sparked feelings of uncertainty and anxiety.

In a report by Data for Progress, more than half of respondents under age 45 have lost jobs, lost hours, or been put on leave.

In a blog post by the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, Darden alumni who graduated during similar times of crises such as the dot-com bubble, 9/11, and the ’08 Recession offered a few pieces of advice to those entering the job market with uncertainty.


Shelley Reese, an ’08 Darden alum and principal product manager at Amazon, said it’s important to see your career from a long view, rather than an immediate.

“It might not pan out that you get your dream job in the next one to two years. By no means should that stop you from positioning yourself for that dream job,” Reese says. “Use it as a springboard. You’ve taken two years to invest in yourself, so take the next two years to continue investing in yourself.”


The biggest benefit of an MBA is perhaps the network you gain.

Sap Sinha, an ’08 Darden grad, recommends grads to lean into their Darden network in their job search.

“All of my career changes are because of Darden people,” Sinha says. “Interviewers select you because you have Darden on your resume. Graduating in 2008 as an international student, we leaned on people through no fault of ours. Don’t be afraid to go for positions that say they don’t hire international students. If there’s a Darden alum, they will find a way.”


While it may be hard with all that’s going on, alumni say it’s important to stay optimistic and confident in times of crisis.

“Darden is all about problem-solving, networking and teamwork. That’s ultimately what people want,” John McCann, an ‘08 Darden alum, says. “It’s not about who can build the best financial models or has the best business acumen. It’s about who can roll up their sleeves, get creative and hustle. Approach problems with confidence. Know that you have something special you can put to work and that distinguishes you as you move forward.”

Sources: UVA Darden, Data for Progress

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