About a week into the fourth quarter of my b-school experience, it dawned on me.
Darden had taken me off the wheel.
For the first three quarters of the year, I was running like a lab rat on a wheel. I knew exactly what I needed to do and where I needed to be every minute of the day. I couldn’t always get everything done, but I also didn’t have to do much prioritizing. Do the finance case or finish the strategy reading? Those were the kind of trade-offs I was weighing.
But now, it’s like the lab technicians who run Darden have opened up the cage door and set me free. I’m an emancipated lab rat, running in the wild — and I have no clue what to do.
Suddenly my classes are scattered across the day. I have group projects and, thus, group meetings that I have to find time to attend. And leadership roles that require even more meetings. And a social life. And, dear God, how do I juggle all of this?
The ironic thing is I used to juggle all these things quite well. In my old life as a responsible, wage-earning adult, I figured out how to balance work, meetings, a social life and community leadership.
So why couldn’t I remember how to do it now?
Oh yeah. Seven months of Darden programming. Seven months of “put your head down and do it.”
You could argue that seven months was a waste of time and led to the atrophy of my real-world skills. But I honestly don’t know how else I would learn so much so quickly. Without the focus and structure Darden provided, it would have been humanly impossible. For me, at least, it was a hugely productive time.
But I can’t live in that hyper-structured environment forever, no matter how productive it made me. So it’s a good thing Darden released me from my cage before it released me into the real world (i.e. my summer internship).