Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Else Drooff, University of Virginia (Darden)

Else Drooff

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

“Born bold.”

Hometown: Annapolis, Maryland

Fun Fact About Yourself: Novice glass blower who never took the GMAT.

Undergraduate School and Major:

Dartmouth College, Bachelors of Arts, Geography

Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, Master of Arts in International Relations, Current Graduate Student

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Growth Strategy Intern with Coschool in Bogotá, Colombia

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? The ability to make quick, thoughtful decisions is essential for leaders and managers in any field. As a dual degree IR student, I believe the case method is complementary to my training in diplomacy and global policymaking.

Aside from cases and classmates, what was the key part of Virginia Darden’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I chose my undergraduate and graduate programs based on the same criterion: a phenomenal education experience.

The Economist has ranked Darden #1 for Education Experience ten years in a row.High median starting salaries (and therefore traditional school rankings) weren’t a factor in my decision-making process because they largely don’t apply to the sectors I am most interested in: international development and education.

Instead, the primary factors in my decision-making process were: 1) ample opportunity for faculty mentorship; 2) ample opportunity for academic crossover (Partnership for Leaders in Education, Batten School of Leadership & Public Policy); 3) location – can’t wait to be OUT of the city!

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Virginia Darden? The Global Immersion Course. I think it’s pretty cool that Darden gives every MBA student the opportunity to travel and learn abroad – for free!’

What has been your first impression of the Darden MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best Darden story so far. I have to hand it to the Darden Admissions Team because they run an incredibly tight ship – my entire application and matriculation process has been seamless.When I was first accepted to Darden, I asked my interviewer Jessica to put me in contact with a Darden student who had taken a “non-traditional path.” Because I am interested in pursuing a career in public service, I wanted to make sure there were students “like me” at Darden. Keen on my values and interests, Jessica put me in contact with Dana, an MBA Social Impact Fellow, who had spent her summer working for the National Park Service. Hearing about Dana’s career trajectory and experience at Darden, I left the conversation feeling confident that I would be able to carve out my own niche at Darden.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I spent 2.5 years providing legal services to immigrants in New Mexico at the height of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies and COVID-19.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? Manifesto for a Moral Revolution by Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder of Acumen. MBA + Moral Imagination = Social Impact

What other MBA programs did you apply to? None. Darden granted me a test waiver so that I could apply!

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Virginia Darden’s MBA program? My graduate school admissions process was pretty unique. In 2020, I applied to Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (without test scores) and was accepted. In 2021, I applied to UVA Darden as a dual degree applicant (with a test waiver) and was accepted. While I do not recommend this strategy to prospective applicants, there are a few pros to keeping a narrow focus:

  • I was able to attend several recruiting events for each program, so the admissions staff at SAIS and Darden definitely knew who I was before I
  • I had a LOT of time to write and perfect my Honestly, it was kind of fun to write them because I wasn’t pressed for time.
  • Each school knew they were my top (and only)


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