Last fall, twenty-nine students were chatting excitedly over breakfast. Recently accepted as Fellows under Wharton Social Impact’s WISE (Wharton Impact Student Experience) Program, they were celebrating this accomplishment and eager to dive in to the real-world challenges they were tasked to solve.
The WISE Fellowship (called the Social Impact Fellowship in previous years) offered them the opportunity to grow their knowledge and skills in research, consulting, and social impact — and get paid while doing it.
“As I was attending countless info sessions during pre-term, the WISE Fellowship stood out for me as it would allow me to positively impact the Philadelphia community that I was now a part of,” said Wharton MBA student Ankit Girdhar, WG’20.
Working with clients like impact investors, start-up entrepreneurs, big-data researchers, and nonprofit leaders, WISE Fellows work in small teams with other Penn and Wharton students to tackle their client’s toughest challenges. The ultimate goal? Scale their clients’ impact.
Last semester, students worked on a diverse set of projects such as:
- Sourcing and conducting due diligence on potential impact investments
- Supporting faculty-led research that uses big data to examine neighborhood vibrancy
- Conducting market research for a tech fund focused on women of color and refining the fund’s investment strategy
- Scoping the U.S. market for the top places where a decentralized water reuse tool could be impactful
- Helping large hospitals and universities in Philadelphia increase their local purchasing
“The Fellowship gave me an opportunity to apply my coursework and past consulting experiences. I gained exposure to the challenges associated with for-profit social enterprises and the importance of a supportive community in delivering true impact,” said Margaret Fletcher, WG ’19.
Sam Brown, WG’20, adds, “As a WISE Fellow, my experience has been unparalleled and truly reflective of the path many impact investors experience.”
Each semester, a new application period opens with new projects and opportunities that are open to all Penn and Wharton students. In the spring 2019 semester (application period January 16th-30th), Wharton Social Impact will hire approximately 15-20 Fellows for seven projects. Applications are live on the Wharton Social Impact website starting January 16th. Accepted Fellows are eligible for a taxable Fellowship award ($1,000 for grad students, $12/hour for undergrads with a max of $1,500).
When asked what she looks for in applicants, WSII’s program manager Yuri Seung said, “Applicants whose skills align with the needs of the project, and those who thoughtfully articulate what they hope to learn while working on their projects really stand out.”
What kind of work would you do as a WISE Fellow? This depends on your project scope. Typically, Fellows spend the first part of their Fellowship researching their topic and reporting findings to the client. The second part is usually spent creating a deliverable based on the findings as presentation deck or a report. “We scope each project to ensure that students will have enough time throughout the semester to complete their work. Fellows who are intellectually curious and take initiative, while demonstrating good time management skills, are the most successful,” said Seung.
She adds, “It’s exciting to see students learn from social impact leaders and work with them to advance projects that have real-world impact.”
Ready to leave your mark? Learn more about the WISE Fellowship and apply by January 30th.
— Nisa Nejadi
Posted: January 16, 2019