Learning from Speakers

brendan-stone2Penn students are always being made aware of upcoming speaking events hosted by student clubs, professors, and University administration. At Wharton, there are an overwhelming number of opportunities for students to learn from prominent individuals across a variety of fields. Many speakers are Penn alumni who love to return to campus, upon invitation, to enlighten the Penn community outside the classroom.

Attending speaking events enables students to broaden their knowledge about the world, especially in areas that they don’t cover in their courses. I’m primarily studying real estate, but was very excited to hear a speaker who has been one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent venture capitalists and technology entrepreneurs. That event was student led; in fact, the Wharton Management Club has a Speakers & Events committee comprised of students who are responsible for inviting prominent individuals to campus and arranging all the logistics around the event. Most Wharton clubs have similar divisions, which enable students to gain experience in event planning and create value for the Penn community. The students involved in the event-planning process have an open door to develop long-term relationships with speakers.

When I read a course syllabus, I first take note of the schedule of speakers for the semester. As a real estate student, I have been fortunate to take courses in which the curriculum is itself largely designed around guest lectures. This structure is exciting for students, as speakers bring to life the many complex issues that might otherwise be taught solely from a textbook. The relationship between academia and the professional world is particularly strong at Wharton, and speaking events organized by professors are one way in which students benefit from this phenomenon.

As a junior recruiting for summer internships, I have found real-estate-specific speaking events to be the best way to prepare for interviews and broaden my knowledge about the industry. In this sense, attending a speaking event is much like reading a news article, albeit interactive and live. As an auditory learner, speaking events are an efficient and fun way to absorb information that might be presented more dryly in a traditional news article. For instance, a recent real estate speaker brought to life the considerations involved in developing apartment buildings for sale to institutional investors. In an interview later that week, I was able to demonstrate my understanding of an industry trend and allude to that which I learned from attending the event.

This post only scratches the surface! In summary, I strongly encourage students to attend as many speaking events as their schedules permit, and for those who are most excited about speaking events, look for ways to be involved in the event-planning process.

I’m a member of the Wharton class of 2017 from Boca Raton, Florida concentrating in Real Estate and Finance. I serve as Co-President of the Wharton Undergraduate Real Estate Club and the Wharton Management Club. I am also an active member of Wharton Ambassadors. In my free time, I enjoy exploring Philadelphia's fantastic culinary scene and going to the movies.