The Value of the Wharton Network
- by David Thomas
With 91,000 members spanning 6 continents and 140 countries and with leaders in just about every branch of global business, Wharton’s alumni community is one of the key resources available to undergraduates here on campus. Whether at an on-campus speaker event, at a company information session, across the interview table, or in the office during a summer internship, alumni interaction is a fundamental part of the Wharton experience.
At Wharton, student-alumni engagement runs deep.
On the Wharton Alumni Relations Council (WARC), my fellow council members and I aim to bridge the student-alumni gap by providing engagement opportunities throughout the academic year.
Over the years, our annual Alumni Colloquia has emerged as the first opportunity for the incoming freshman class to hear from our alumni. During the second week of class each fall, we invite five alumni to speak with the new students about their careers and to give practical advice about forging one’s path at Wharton. This year, our students were fortunate to hear from alumni on topics including “The Hedge Fund Industry: Past, Present and Future,” “Stop Networking: Start Building Relationships,” “The Realistic Startup,” “So You Think You Might Want to Consider a Career in Mergers and Acquisitions?,” “How to Maximize Your Penn Experience,” and “Money 101: Managing Your Personal Finances.” For those of you who missed them, a selection of these talks will soon be available on our website at www.whartonarc.com.
In addition, our Alumni Lunch Series speaker events serve as a chance for undergraduates to hear from Wharton’s most prominent alumni about their time at the School, transition to professional life and current endeavors. The goal of these talks is to have students learn from the stories of our alumni and to apply those lessons to their time at Wharton and beyond. We host a broad range of speakers from different backgrounds each year. Speakers from the recent past include Ben Frost, W’96, WG’01 (managing director at Morgan Stanley); Dan Zilberman, WG’01 (managing director at Warburg Pincus); Stacey Rauch, W’80, WG’81 (director at McKinsey), Jay Alix, W’77 (founder of AlixPartners); and Wendy Finerman, W’82 (Oscar-winning producer of films including Forrest Gump and The Devil Wears Prada). We are truly thankful for the time that all of our alumni give to share their knowledge with us.
Having proudly recruited our new freshman members, the council is now looking forward to the coming year as we seek to set up traditions that alumni and students alike will want to follow. Keenly aware of the increasingly global nature of our alumni network, we hope to expand our speaker events to include videoconferencing sessions which will increase student exposure to alumni who live and work overseas. Back on campus, we will also be hosting our second annual Rotational Dinner during which 50 students will have the chance to dine with alumni spanning a range of career paths.
Whilst the undergraduate community benefits immensely from the advice and insights of our alumni, we hope to return the favor in future years as productive employees, colleagues and business partners. On WARC, my fellow council members and I will continue to work to catalyze student-alumni engagement armed with the knowledge that while we are undergraduates for just four years, we will be members of the alumni community for life.
Editor’s note: This post first appeared on Wharton Undergraduate Program’s Student Voices blog on Nov. 1, 2012.