I hope I’m not alone in this, but blogging consistently has always been hard. I’m always in love with the idea of writing. I’ve thought of and even launched multiple blogs in the past on veterans issues, travel, family life… some of my old entries are recycled into wanderingveteran.com. But ultimately, I have never been able to write consistently enough to keep a blog alive.

Have you ever heard of Live Your Legend? About four years ago now, I was in a career funk and really debating if I could spend the rest of my life as a government employee. The pay was amazing, the work was rewarding, and I didn’t have to worry about losing my job for the most part, but I just wasn’t happy. I imagine many of you have had that same thought. I would watch TED talks just for inspiration and one day came across “How to Find Work You Love” by Scott Dinsmore (R.I.P.). Scott was also like me, only he did something about it. He started Live Your Legend (LYL), but more importantly, he helped me launch my own journey into finding a job I’ll love (still ongoing). Scott passed last year in a tragic hiking accident, and I was admittedly very distraught.

I’m very impressed in his wife, Chelsea. She has continued LYL, honoring Scott’s vision and community he helped create. I mention all of this because this morning LYL announced their Start-A-Blog challenge, and I’m finally making the commitment to make this blog what I’ve always hoped it could be, focused on veteran issues, travel, and my Darden experience. I’m announcing it publicly so you can keep me accountable. Hopefully you will not be making fun of me in a year because this was my last entry.

I first had the idea to blog about my Darden experience after reading EMBA ’16 Corey Feist’s blog, “Healthcare Means Business.” When I met Corey last fall, I gave him a hard time for not have a new entry since Term 2 (they were on Term 7 at the time). Now I find myself not having a new entry since Term 3 and likely for the same reason (I’m now in Term 7).

What happens around Term 3 is the excitement of being a new MBA student kind of wears out and you’re stuck with a lot of really hard work to do. You’ve likely adjusted to the new schedule and figured out the work life balance part. You’re also now into a near robotic rhythm of work, dinner, study, learning team meeting, distance learning, On-Grounds weekend, repeat. The course work on finance, accounting, marketing, and strategy is a grind. You’ll find the amazing energy you once had at on-grounds is mostly gone and you’re more likely to spend the first night on-grounds studying and going to bed early than going out for drinks with classmates. The good news is… Terms 5 and 6 were a lot less intense and our class revived our social energy for the summer sessions.

This intense grind I’m talking about is what Darden’s ‘core’ curriculum. It’s all of the core MBA courses that give us the skills we need to successfully lead companies. It’s the courses I feared the most when going back to school after 15 years. But completing core is almost a definite sign you’re going to make it… you’re going to have an MBA from the University of Virginia. If you’re a regular MBA student at Darden, you get to celebrate in April of your first year. If you’re an EMBA, we had to wait until August for that celebration. If you’re a new EMBA starting this year, it sounds like the wait will be even longer… December of your second year!

My class celebrated the end of core with a global leadership residency in China, which I’ll cover in its own post. We are now into our two final terms of electives. This term I’m taking Leadership Coaching, Leading Strategic Change, Entrepreneurial Thinking, and Real Estate Finance and Development. The work is still challenging, but the schedule is definitely a bit more doable. I plan to use this time to continue exploring career options, using my actual course work to help propel my research of the different paths. I look forward to sharing more of that journey with you!