One of the coolest opportunities I’ve had through Wharton so far is the Wharton Industry Exploration Program (WIEP). These are trips that happen over school breaks in a different city to explore an industry by meeting with alums and companies in that area. We earn a half credit for attending these trips, the preparation sessions before, and writing a paper afterwards. Currently, there is a trip to New York City over fall break to explore the tech industry, San Francisco during winter break to explore the tech industry, and Los Angeles over spring break to explore media and entertainment. These happen every year.
I just went on the New York trip and had an incredible time. I went for two reasons—I wanted to see what non-technical roles in the technology industry looked like and explore New York to see if I would want to live there after graduation. I definitely got a feel for both by the end of the trip!
We visited IAC, Vox, Squarespace, Warby Parker, AppNexus, Flatiron Healthcare, Insight Partners, and Sirius XM. In addition, there were three panels with alums in entrepreneurship, venture capital/impact investing, and tech marketing. They all spoke to us about what they do, the types of jobs in their fields, how they got to where they are, and what advice they have to give. Many of them were happy to stay in touch after. Events like this “teach” you how to network by putting you in such situations, and over time you figure out what approaches work well for you and what not to do. For example, I realized that I often wait to long after meeting someone to send a follow up email. Getting this kind of exposure is what the trip is mostly about, although the paper we have to write at the end is where most of our final grade comes from.
When talking to alums and visiting companies in New York, I learned that there is an incredible amount of opportunity in the tech space in New York, that there are plenty of non-technical roles available, and that it is definitely an attainable type of job for right after graduation. Most discussion on campus revolves around other industries, especially in Wharton, so it was great to be shown something different. Visiting the offices was also incredible—some of them had absolutely beautiful views of the city which made for great pictures
I also fell in love with New York City. It may be a little chaotic, but the diversity, culture, and sheer number of things to do make it a fantastic place to be a young professional. I visited art museums, thrift stores, parks, and wonderful restaurants. While just walking through the streets I saw people from so many different parts of the world and in different stages of life. The excitement is in the air and I am definitely open to living there. Another fun fact is that I saw Penn people all over—at nearly every location I was at, someone was in Penn merch!
There were some unexpected perks to the trip as well. The professor leading the trip normally does not teach undergraduates, so exposure to him, his research in the management department, and his perspective as a former entrepreneur was unique and refreshing. He encouraged all of us to pursue the jobs and goals that matter to us as individuals, and I left every conversation feeling inspired and ready to live out my wildest professional dreams. Additionally, I got to know lots of other students who I may not otherwise have befriended. When you spend a few days living, eating, and travelling together in a new city, you can’t help but get to know each other well!
I loved the trip so much that I am registered for the one in San Francisco over winter break as well and am excited to see what it has in store. I’ll keep you updated!