A personal belief of mine is that you can learn just as much, if not more, outside of the classroom than inside of it. In other words, there is so much to learn from having experiences that take you beyond sitting in class. Wharton certainly does a great job of providing students with those opportunities and encouraging us to take them.
One example can be seen from the career treks that are offered to students. As a sophomore, I have had the pleasure of participating in a daylong career exploration trip to New York City. During this trip, we visited Kiva, a microfinancing company that aims to connect lenders and borrowers both domestically and worldwide, and Google. This was a great way to learn about possible career paths, as well as take the concepts and skills we have learned inside the classroom and see how they would relate to the real world. Aside from listening to accomplished professionals speak about their roles and the work that they do, it was very interesting to tour the offices of both companies, seeing people hard at work and getting a sense of the company culture. At Google, specifically, it was great to hear words of encouragement from several Penn alumni who were in our shoes not too long ago.
Another outside-of-the-classroom opportunity that I have been able to take advantage of is the Wharton Industry Exploration Program. The program was piloted this year to allow students to explore possible career industries while still in college. This year, the WEIP took students to the San Francisco Bay Area to experience the booming tech and entrepreneurship sectors. A great thing about this program is that it actually doubles as a half-credit course. So, we were responsible for engaging in didactic activities and assignments regarding the tech-entrepreneurship space while simultaneously exploring the attractions and culture of San Francisco. While in San Francisco, we had the pleasure of meeting with countless alumni and visiting their companies. Additionally, there were several panel events in which alumni shared their thoughts and experiences on various topics from starting one’s own business to mergers and acquisitions. We not only learned all about the intersection of entrepreneurship and tech and the endless opportunities available for careers, but also made valuable connections with the professionals whom we met. The alumni were very excited to see interest amongst students in an industry that is rapidly growing.
Overall, Wharton students have so many opportunities offered to us in order to facilitate experiential learning. I am glad I have seized a couple opportunities thus far, and certainly plan to continue doing so in the future. I definitely encourage my fellow classmates to do so as well.