At Wharton, we learn with our ears and our hands. Imagine entering Wharton as a first semester freshman. You instantly become immersed in an environment where knowledge and motivation is contagious. Waiting for my omelet at the Plaza Café, I frequently overhear graduate students discussing their work at Goldman Sachs, Bain, and tech start-ups. Attending the Social Impact Club’s Ashton Kutcher event, I listened to a renowned actor speak passionately about his activism and investments. Sitting in on a careers panel, I gained valuable insights into life as an investment banker or consultant.
These experiences highlight the opportunities that students have to learn by listening outside the classroom. The beauty of Wharton is that life is perfectly balanced between learning from others and learning by doing. No class typifies this synergy better than Management 100. As first-semester freshmen, all Wharton students are enrolled in this course and assigned to a team of ten. Together, this team consults for a Philadelphia non-profit to which it is assigned. Throughout the semester, students solve real problems faced by real organizations while applying business principles taught in course lectures. Speaking, writing, and team-building exercises hone students’ skills as individuals and team players. The beauty of the class is its adaptive learning approach; in other words, mistakes are encouraged and remedies are rewarded.
Wharton freshmen are a melting pot of cultures, personalities, and strengths. When highly intelligent individuals work together, productivity grows exponentially. Management 100 develops students into team players. During one of the first recitations of the year, our Teaching Assistant handed each team member a card with instructions. He told us to remain silent, dropped rubber puzzle pieces on the classroom floor, and yelled “Begin!” In the absence of verbal instructions, our barely acquainted team had to use gestures to communicate. Within minutes, we realized that the goal of the activity was to form a colored pattern by fitting the puzzle pieces together in a very specific way. We succeeded in the allotted time, but those few minutes were the most challenging of my life. I am naturally verbal, and thus, remaining silent was very agonizing. Only in retrospect do I realize how purposeful that assignment was. For a few minutes, my teammates and I put aside our differences and solved a problem completely objectively. Before I even knew my teammates’ names, we were united by a common challenge. Just imagine how easily we all bonded after those few minutes.