The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has placed first in the Poets&Quants Best Undergraduate Business Schools Rankings the past two years.
The secret behind that? At Wharton, they call it the “Leadership Journey.”
“One unique aspect of the Wharton experience is the Leadership Journey, a set of four modules that prepares students for leadership roles by providing experiential learning as well as evidence-based content on leadership, communication, teamwork, and diversity,” Lori Rosenkopf, Vice Dean and Director of Wharton’s Undergraduate Division, says.
THE FOUR-YEAR JOURNEY
The Leadership Journey at Wharton is broken up into four years. It starts in students’ freshman year, where they take Wharton 101 (Business and You: Exploring Business Pathways and Developing Your Potential). The class, as Rosenkopf describes, is the gateway course of the Leadership Journey.
“The course objectives are to introduce students to the wide range of curricular opportunities available at Wharton, make students more aware of their strengths and leadership potential, and orient students to the Wharton experience and empower them to become engaged members of the scholarly and co-curricular community,” Rosenkopf says.
Through the course, professor and alumni guide conversations about critical problems, research, and leadership in a series of sessions spanning the school’s curricular areas.
In their second year, students take Wharton 201 (Management Communication: Persuasive Speaking and Writing for Business). In this course, students focus on developing and practicing oral and written communication skills for presentations and business memos across a range of scenarios.
Junior year focuses on Wharton 301 (Teamwork and Interpersonal Influence). This course develops juniors’ abilities to work productively in diverse teams and includes discussion and application of research-based best practices for maximizing team performance.
By their senior year, students are ready for the capstone courses. Through the capstone course, students apply knowledge to practice for actual or simulated clients. These courses, Rosenkopf says, allow students to practice analytical thinking skills, including consideration of ethical issues, practice written and oral communication skills, and practice working in an assigned team environment by leveraging the experience developed in earlier modules of the leadership Journey.
EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
Wharton offers a number of experiential learning opportunities for its students to apply their knowledge.
One of those opportunities is the Wharton Industry Exploration Program (WIEP). The program offers short-term, half-credit courses students can take during school breaks. Often, these courses feature pre-travel classes, visits to businesses, lectures, extracurricular activities, and networking opportunities with alumni.
“WIEP courses are designed to provide an understanding of the particular industry’s business environment, help students gain a working knowledge of the sector’s business practices through lectures and direct interaction with business leaders, help students explore and prepare for careers in that sector, and connect students with alumni and others in the industry,” Rosenkopf says.
Additionally, the WIEP courses are catered to specific industries and locations. For instance, the New York City and San Francisco courses focus on entrepreneurship, established and emerging technology, and the finance of innovation and feature visits to tech-sector businesses, lectures, extracurricular activities, and networking opportunities with alumni.
The Los Angeles course features visits to arts, entertainment, and media businesses, panels, extracurricular activities, and networking opportunities with alumni in the Los Angeles area.
In Washington, D.C., the course focuses on public policy research. Students participate in research seminars at various DC agencies within the public policy sector and take part in informal interactions with policy researchers.
Another experiential learning opportunity is the Wharton International Program (WIP). WIP is a half-credit course in which students receive intensive training prior to embarking on a short-term global adventure that includes business site visits, university lectures, cultural excursions, and networking opportunities with students, alumni, and business contacts from the host country.
“I took part in a Wharton International Program, visiting Athens and Istanbul with Wharton classmates,” Samina Hydery, a class of 2016 alum, says. “While we were there, we met with key leaders and executives who were also Wharton alums.”
Each year, Wharton offers three distinct WIP courses. This year’s locations include Colombia, Italy, and China.
“WIP courses are designed to provide an understanding of a region’s business and cultural environment, help students gain a working knowledge of local business practices through lectures at partner schools and direct interaction with business managers, explore the value of different business models, promote intercultural awareness and communication, and help prepare students for careers in the global economy,” Rosenkopf says.
The career outlook for Wharton grads is among the strongest. Among the Class of 2018, nearly 96% were employed full-time by the end of September with an average overall salary of $80,354.
Part of that success may be due to Wharton’s exceptional career services and opportunities to connect students with alumni.
“Students at Wharton have access to many employers both within the Philadelphia region and beyond,” Rosenkopf says. “They connect with employers through career fairs and information sessions on campus, industry conferences and events, and employer site visits and treks in Philadelphia, New York and other regions. In addition, our Handshake job board had nearly 40,000 positions posted on it during the 2017-2018 academic year for Penn students and alumni.”
In terms of where Wharton grads tend to end up, a large majority of Wharton’s Class of 2018, 63.4%, choose to stay in the US Northeast region. The second most popular destination is the US West, with 15.6% of Wharton grads accepting full-time positions there. The third most popular destination is the US Mid-Atlantic region, with 8.8% accepting full-time positions.
What Alumni Say:
“I took part in a Wharton International Program, visiting Athens and Istanbul with Wharton classmates. While we were there, we met with key leaders and executives who were also Wharton alums. I also took part in a senior Capstone, which was a great simulation to put together all that we learned in the classroom with peers.’’ – Class of 2016 alum
“I did two 10-day global immersion trips. The first to Portugal and Morocco, and the second to the Dominican Republic where we spoke with and learned from business professionals about the current climate through a social impact lens.” – Class of 2016 alum
“I went for the Wharton International Program Retail trip to Hong Kong and Macau. It was an excellent experience to help us understand retail and supply chain management in the Eastern part of the world. We met with top executives, had great mentorship sessions, and were encouraged to build relationships with leaders of top companies such as Tory Burch, Li & Fung, etc. It was an immersive experience that involved a factory visit, a course at HKUST (partner school in Hong Kong), and a sense that Wharton is keen on fostering the next generation of world leaders.” – Class of 2016 alum