From Wharton to Silicon Valley

Parker BrownThis semester, I had the opportunity to take Culture of Technology, a half-credit course taught by Lori Rosenkopf, the Vice Dean and Director of the Wharton Undergraduate Division. During the bi-weekly sessions, we had the chance to hear from Wharton alumni who are currently working in the technology sector. These guest speakers ran the gamut from serial entrepreneurs to venture capitalists and shared with us their experiences in pursuing careers in Silicon Valley.

This course is a great example of how Wharton students can gain exposure to the career opportunities that are available to them upon graduation. As a student interested in the technology sector but not certain about pursuing a tech-related career, I was able to gain a better understanding of all of the parties involved in the Bay Area ecosystem and exactly where I might fit in.

In preparation for the speakers, we read various research materials that provided a context for each discussion. The topics did a very nice job of capturing different aspects of the technology sector from product-market fit to the human resources division and the role of investment banks in IPOs. One of our speakers was Pranshu Maheshwari, W’15 and co-founder of Prayas Analytics, a recent Y-Combinator graduate with the mission to quantify the offline world and bring data analytics to brick-and-mortar businesses. Having the chance to speak with someone only a few years older than me who had already had substantial experience in the technology space was extremely helpful in trying to sort out my own career aspirations. We also heard from Aydin Senkut, W’96, who had been one of the first 30 employees at Google and who now works as an angel investor. All of the speakers had unique perspectives based on their own experiences and were more than willing to offer advice for those of us interested in making the trek out West.

Apart from this half-semester course, students also have the opportunity to participate in the Wharton Industry Exploration Program, which features week-long, for-credit trips to San Francisco over winter break or Los Angeles over spring break. During the San Francisco trip, students visit technology companies in the area, attend lectures at Wharton San Francisco, and connect with alumni working in the tech industry. I will be participating in the program this coming January and am very much looking forward to the experience.

Parker Brown is originally from Las Vegas, Nevada. He is concentrating in Management, Finance, and OIDD. Apart from participating in Wharton Ambassadors, he is also a consultant at the Small Business Development Center and on the board of Penn Appétit, the university's food magazine. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, spinning, and trying new restaurants.