It’s a People Business

Part of my original attraction to Penn was the presence of an undergraduate business program.  I was pretty certain that I wanted to do something that incorporated money, math and people after graduation.  However, I had no idea what that would be. Nor did I feel confident in my knowledge of the myriad industries and services connected to the business world.  I was hoping that Wharton would give me a taste of what was available to me, beyond how business could be defined in a textbook.

The knowledgeable and experienced professors, the multitude of firms recruiting Penn students on campus and the interactions with Penn’s alumni network have given me more direction in my career path.

A unique experience I’ve had in exploring my options was while attending “Sophomore Career Exploration” excursions.  Wharton hosts day trips for a small group of sophomores to visit businesses in New York City and Washington, D.C.  The Wharton reputation and career-minded student body encourages many firms to host Wharton’s undergraduates for an on-site information and “day-in-the-life” session.

A "microkitchen" in Google's New York office.

I visited Google across from New York City’s Chelsea Market. It was an incredible experience to see the working environment of this unique firm.  The rumors I had heard were true: they have play pits, ping-pong tables and foosball tables in their break rooms; refueling food and drinks are never out of site; and employees have the option to ride scooters around their office.

I was able to experience the working conditions and decide if it would be a good fit for my preferred style. I interacted with staff of various management levels and backgrounds about topics such as the Google lifestyle, life in New York and even their favorite Wharton experience (for the Penn alumni on hand).  Additionally, I am now able to share firsthand experience in classroom discussions about how businesses motivate their employees. It was an exceptional experience that made me understand why people and networks are so important in business.

(Editor’s note: This post first appeared on the Undergraduate Program’s Student Voices blog on April 25, 2012.)

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