Before Darden, Lauren Matteson (Bowden) (MBA ’17) was living in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, where she built an impressive resume in the travel and tourism industry and obtained her license to captain vessels up to 100 gross tons from the U.S. Coast Guard. Now she’s ready to tackle her next adventure in the consulting industry in Dallas after graduating this year from Darden.
When Matteson first moved to St. John, she started out working at a few vacation companies and restaurants, and it wasn’t long before she started to prove her value and advance into managerial roles. “From my management experience, I started working in consultative roles where I would help a restaurant open or help a travel company with its operations. I built this reputation on a small island as someone that could help them organize and strategize their small business in a very competitive environment,” Matteson said.
Her accomplishments didn’t stop there. Matteson found a fascination with the sea and sailing. “Knowing nothing, I started volunteering my time to scrub people’s boats and would have them teach me everything about the ship, how it worked and the oceanography of the territory.” She started working as a first mate, and eventually earned her 100-ton license from the U.S. Coast Guard. Matteson was fulfilling her personal and professional goals, and her next goal to obtain an MBA led her to Darden.
“I had built up a resume of managerial experience, but to take my career to the next level, I knew that I needed to supplement my liberal arts education and my experience with more formal business training,” Matteson said. “When I was looking at schools, I really wanted to be challenged, and there were several things that really drew me to Darden: the professors and the powerful dynamics in the classroom, the tight-knit community, the caliber of students, and rigor of academics.”
When she first got to Darden, Matteson explored a few prospective career paths. She was fortunate in her First Year during recruiting with the help of The Career Center to land an internship opportunity that combined her interests in the technology and consulting industries at Cognizant Technology Solutions.
Matteson found herself surrounded by a number of resources during her First Year while exploring her next career steps. “Every day, you’re surrounded by influencers in a company briefing, lunch, Leadership Speaker Series, or hearing from a Darden alum at an event or in class. There are also great professors that can spark an interest that you never thought you would explore,” Matteson said. “My peers were probably my greatest career resource. Having access to so many talented individuals to brainstorm ideas about what you are thinking about doing with your future career, the steps to get there, and your short- and long-term goals was incredible.”
Matteson is confident that the case method she experienced in the classroom these past two years will prove to be extremely beneficial as she takes on her full-time role after Darden. “Being in the classroom and being challenged to participate and support whatever statement or recommendation that you’re making has been profoundly helpful. Additionally, it’s very similar to what you would experience in a boardroom,” Matteson said. “Being able to speak up and get feedback on your thoughts is so helpful.”
Matteson reflected on her journey over the last two years and shared some career insights and advice for the incoming Class of 2019. “Come up with a system and be organized in your recruiting efforts, especially if you’re recruiting for multiple industries, and be genuine when you’re meeting people and figuring out where your future may be.”
After graduating this year, Matteson will move to Dallas to begin her role as a consultant at inCode Consulting, a boutique consulting firm, in their telecommunications, media and technology practice.