Wharton and FinTech

elias-bernsteinFor most of my undergraduate career as a Wharton student, I followed a pretty traditional path. I became a dedicated member of the Wharton Undergraduate Consulting Club (WUCC), looked for internships in finance and consulting, and spent hours coming up with seemingly plausible reasons why I wanted to go into investment banking.

All my work as an undergraduate culminated with a consulting internship in New York. I thought I had made it – this was everything that I had been working toward for the prior three years. As time progressed through the internship, however, I began to question the path I thought I had wanted for myself. My team was amazing, my project was awesome, I was learning a ton, and I was making great money. But it felt as though something was missing.

Still, I went into full-time recruiting for consulting in the fall and was determined to take one of the opportunities available to me as a full-time consulting analyst/associate. That is, until I had lunch with Sean Taylor, a Wharton alum who now works in data science at Facebook. As fate would have it, Sean was not the one who would change my life; instead, it was Daniel McAuley, one of the other students attending the lunch, who would help set me on the path that I am on today. After an engaging conversation with Sean, I practically chased the fast-walking Daniel out of the luncheon. Daniel was wearing a jacket with a Wealthfront logo, and, having been interested in the company beforehand, I was determined to seize this opportunity to find out more about it. To my surprise, Daniel was happy to chat with me, although it was not until later that I realized how lucky I had been to meet him.

When I met with Daniel and expressed my dissatisfaction with my current options in consulting, he seemed all too happy to introduce me to the world of Financial Technology, or FinTech. Fortunately for me, I happened to be speaking with one of the co-founders of the Wharton FinTech Club, the third largest MBA organization at Wharton. Daniel explained that many bankers and consultants had felt the same ennui that I had felt over the previous summer and had since been building up a growing subsector of the tech industry that seeks to revolutionize finance with powerful new software and strategies.

By this point, I had been working for the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative (WCAI) for a year, and I was also almost done with my computer science minor. Now, here was an industry that sat right at the intersection of my two career interests. In FinTech, I saw opportunities that would enable me to use both my business acumen as well as my technical skills to make a meaningful and palpable impact on the world.

I listened eagerly to everything Daniel said, not believing my good fortune. He introduced me to Wharton FinTech’s Slack channel and explained some of the opportunities available within the organization. Thanks to him, I was able to attend two tech treks, one to New York and another to San Francisco, as well as meet amazing people with experience or interests in FinTech. I owe a significant debt of gratitude to Daniel and Wharton FinTech. Without his and the organization’s help, I would have continued plodding along a path I did not really want to venture down.

I could not be more excited to become involved in FinTech after graduation, and there is no reason why other students cannot follow a similar path. Although they may not show up on PennLink or participate in OCR, FinTech companies are growing rapidly and offering amazing opportunities for Wharton students, both MBA and undergrad. Together with Wharton FinTech, I hope to give back to the Wharton community by helping other undergrads discover the opportunities that are available to them. With luck, I will be one of the first among many Wharton students who use technology to help shape the world’s financial future.

I'm from just outside St. Louis, Missouri - but on the Illinois side. I graduated in May with concentrations in finance and OID (operations, information and decisions) and a minor in computer science. I had the opportunity to be very involved on campus in Wharton, Engineering, and in extracurricular capacities including student government and Greek life.