‘IF YOU’RE NOT SWIMMING IN ONE DIRECTION OR THE OTHER, THE CURRENT WILL JUST PULL YOU’
Lisa Xu says that she was surprised by the lack of diversity in terms of concentration when she arrived on campus. She described meeting people freshmen year who dreamed of starting their own businesses; now they work at Goldman Sachs.
“If you’re not swimming in one direction or the other, the current will just pull you,” she says.
Salty says it can be easy to forget the hundreds of jobs Wharton studies are prepared for.
“You can get a bit of a skewed perspective,” he says. “And you think—if I don’t get one of those two types of jobs [in investment banking or consulting], you think, there’s no other jobs out there.”
THE AVERAGE SENIOR HAD 11.5 JOB INTERVIEWS AND 2.2 OFFERS
But Wharton isn’t only a place where high-achieving students go to follow a single path. Its administrators and professors try to encourage students to create their own opportunities, as well. For example, every year Wharton students can participate in a business plan competition, where they design and launch their own ventures. The winning team leaves the competition with a $30,000 cash prize and $15,000 of in-kind services. There’s also an Entrepreneurship and Innovation track within the Management concentration, where students learn to create start-ups or grow medium-size companies. Or students can work towards a dual-degree from Wharton and from the School of Engineering. Next year Wharton undergrads will be also able to take a class on Wharton’s campus in San Francisco.
Regardless of what field students are entering, the job prospects for Wharton graduates are quite good. The average senior in the class of 2013 had 11.5 interviews and 2.2 job offers during senior year, according to Barbara Hewitt, the senior associate director of career services at Penn. The numbers are slightly skewed because nearly 40% of students accepted offers after junior year summer internships; those students frequently don’t interview at all during their senior year. Many other students received job offers from their summer employers but did not accept them, and those students tend to interview more selectively with employers than they might otherwise, Hewitt said.
About 84% of graduating students had secured a job by graduation senior year, and the pay wasn’t too bad either. The average starting salary for the class of 2013 was $67, 986, with most students also receiving signing bonuses and annual bonuses.
A COMMUNITY DESCRIBED AS TIGHT-KNIT, WELCOMING AND KIND
Even if there’s some truth to the stereotypical Whartonite working no-holds-barred toward a banking internship in New York, every student I spoke with praised the diverse pool of peers and professors they’d met at the school. Students described the community as “tight-knit,” “welcoming,” and “kind,” and raved about the experience of meeting people from every social, racial, geographic, and political background.
Maxine Winston, a senior who will be doing strategy consulting in Boston next year, said the community was one of the unexpected pleasures of going to Wharton.
“I feel like I’ve learned just as much inside the classroom as I have outside of the classroom, just talking to people. I’ve learned a lot from my peers,” she says.
Students at Wharton are a disciplined and devoted bunch, working to achieve in one of the most challenging undergraduate business programs in the country. And you can tell the future is often on their minds.
As we’re leaving our interview, Yang turns to me and asks, “What are you planning to do with the next few years?” Then she laughs.
“That’s such a Wharton question. We’re always asking each other—what are you planning for the summer? For after graduation?”