When I was first applying to colleges, I knew that I was interested in business, but at the same time I had always enjoyed politics and public policy. Now as a rising junior at Wharton, one of the most pleasant surprises has been the degree to which I have been able to include public policy in my education here. Initially, I intended to pursue a “dual degree” where in addition to working towards my bachelors in science in economics from Wharton, I would also graduate with a bachelors in arts in political science from Penn’s College of Arts and Sciences. However, I have since found that the opportunities for intermixing business and public policy go even beyond the degrees you graduate with.
Although I am now only pursuing a minor in political science, I have been very happy with how well my political science courses mesh with my business classes. For example, there was a lot of beneficial overlap between my management class and my International Security course this semester in terms of the cases we learned from. Getting to have two different departmental perspectives on the same events widened the experience for me. You also get exposure to the “BEPP” (Business Economics and Public Policy) department at Wharton with a “core” course that most students take in second semester of freshmen year. The BEPP department also offers many other fascinating courses that bridge the gap between public policy and business. After having this introduction to the department freshmen year, I am eager to take more upper-level courses before I graduate.
But even outside of the classroom, I have found some great ways to get involved with public policy while at Wharton. We have lots of very active political and interest groups, who frequently bring fascinating big-name speakers to campus, as well as many issue-oriented and non-partisan student publications. Also, the new Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative is an organization run by Penn that even offers students the opportunity to be paid for the public policy research they do. Finally, if you are interested in taking your education and doing real work in Washington, D.C., the Penn in Washington program will actually facilitate and help pay for an internship in our nation’s capital. Wharton definitely provides great opportunities to combine your business education with policy work, and it is a major reason why I have enjoyed my time here so far.