Atacama and Creative Strategy: All in a Summer

Photo credit: Leon Petrosyan, Wikimedia Commons

The Atacama Desert. Photo credit: Leon Petrosyan, Wikimedia Commons.

I can’t believe I have just one year left. It’s a scary thought that I’m running out of time to take classes like Customer Behavior and Healthcare Services—elective classes that lead me to Wharton in the first place. Before I dig into the details of this year, let me fill you in on my summer.

I went on a Wharton Leadership Venture after classes let out in May. Twenty-five of my classmates and I headed down to Chile to hike through the Atacama Desert, taking turns leading our small groups. Each night, we would find a site to pitch our tents, make some dinner and discuss how the day went.

As an Eagle Scout, I spent a lot of time hiking as a kid. I didn’t expect to be physically challenged … but I was wrong! On our last day in Chile, we climbed a very steep (and icy) mountain face to ascend to around 15,500 feet.

In addition to canyoning and mountaineering, the author's venture team climbed and rappelled out in the middle of the Chilean desert.

In addition to canyoning and mountaineering, the author’s venture team climbed and repelled out in the middle of the Chilean desert.

This was when I discovered that, despite the fact that I love rock climbing, I have a fear of heights. Toppling down the mountain felt like a real possibility, but my classmates are amazing. They got me up on my feet and didn’t let vertigo get me down!

Later in the summer, I interned at Facebook in NYC as a creative strategist. I spent my time helping CPG brands and their agencies get the most out of Facebook’s News Feed. It was a rollercoaster. While Facebook has grown into a tech giant with offices around the world, it still has strong elements of its startup roots. Departments shift and change, their goals morph and team members move to different roles. None of this felt capricious; all of the change was geared towards creating a better company.

Internally, employees at Facebook talk a lot about being 1 percent finished. Facebook isn’t done yet, it has a long way to go. This speaks to Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of Facebook’s role in connecting the world.

Now that I’m back at school, I’m busy figuring out what I want to do next. Return to Facebook? Get into health tech or maybe ed tech? I’m enjoying this last opportunity to really examine what I want to do with my career. Stay tuned!

Editor’s note: This post first appeared on the Wharton MBA Program’s Student Diarist blog on Sept. 8, 2013. 

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