Wharton Stories

Meet the Wharton Veterans Club

“Transitioning from the military to business school can be a daunting process. Members of the Wharton Veterans Club made it their priority not just to see me succeed in my Wharton application, but to succeed in transitioning out of the military.” — Bing Bing Xie, WG’24

Acting as both a community and a professional resource, The Wharton Veterans Club is a student-led organization and a home for MBA Vets. The club fosters relationships among service members and veterans, assists with the transition to business careers, and offers mentorship opportunities.

​The Wharton Veterans Club is deeply committed to assisting transitioning service members, veterans, and their families during the MBA process, even before they begin their application. Club members take great pride in their military service and are proud to be a part of the Wharton community and believe the best way to continue serving is by helping prospective Wharton Veterans in their MBA journey.

To commemorate the community of the Veterans Club, we’re highlighting the experiences of our veteran students in the MBA program.

Evan HarkinsEvan Harkins, WG’23
Co-President, Wharton Veterans Club
Military Specialty: United States Army, Engineer

“The Wharton Veterans Club is a close-knit community both socially and professionally. The mentorship the club provides during the recruiting process helps first years successfully navigate their transition from service to private sector. Our club features veterans from every service, multiple countries, both enlisted and officers. I am incredibly proud of the admissions assistance our club provides- if you are a veteran interested in Wharton please reach out to us with any questions.”

Emily GowellEmily Gowell, WG’23
VP of Careers, Wharton Veterans Club
Military Specialty: United States Navy, Surface Warfare

“Wharton has a significant Veterans community, and while many of us are exploring careers outside the military, this network provides support during a major transition. The Vets Club offers opportunities to both seek and give mentorship, and to continue a philosophy of service to one another, in a new setting.”

Bing Bing Xie, WG’24
VP of Marketing, Wharton Veterans Club
Military Specialty: United States Army, Armor

“Transitioning from the military to business school can be a daunting process. Members of the Wharton Veterans Club made it their priority not just to see me succeed in my Wharton application, but to succeed in transitioning out of the military. To this day, the Vets that I reached out to during my application process still check in on me to make sure I’m doing well at school and at recruiting. It is also endearing how open and supportive everyone in the Wharton community is of Veterans and it has really made Wharton feel like home.”

 

If you are in active service or a Veteran looking to start your MBA journey, connect with the Wharton Veterans Club here.

— Abby Behrends*

*Abby is the Associate Director of Marketing and Communications, MBA Admissions

Posted: November 10, 2022

Wharton Stories

Capt Ben Crovella: Earning a Wharton MBA as a Marine Corps Veteran

“A common misconception is that veterans don’t want to talk about their service; but the truth is, most actually love to talk about their experiences in the military. This Veterans Day, I encourage you to ask a veteran to tell you their story. What you’ll learn might just surprise you.” – Captain Ben Crovella

When Wharton Stories caught up with Ben Crovella, WG’15, he was found in his office at the corporate headquarters of CVS, where he serves as the Executive Director for Category Strategy and Assortment Analytics. Ben double-majored in Strategic Management and Operations at Wharton, and earned his MBA with honors in 2015. He accomplished a great deal during his two years on the School’s Philadelphia campus; like TAing in an upper-level Management course, making the Dean’s List, and his status as both a Student Life and Career Fellow. But Ben’s impressive resume spans backward, when he began his career in Marine Corps in 2007. As an active member of Wharton’s Veteran’s Club, Ben wrote an article on his experience as a veteran in 2015, published on Wharton Stories here. In November 2022, Ben revisited his former piece and reflected upon his engagement with Wharton’s robust veteran community.

Captain Ben Crovella, pictured in his dress blues in 2015, the same year he graduated with his MBA from Wharton

Although Ben’s two grandfathers served in World War II, as Ben puts it, he “wasn’t a kid who grew up wanting to join the military.” He’s from just outside of Boston, a small town that doesn’t have a huge military presence, and neither of his parents enlisted in the service. Still, looking for ways to fund his undergraduate Cornell education, he joined ROTC where he arrived at the Navy and realized he thrived. He explored different areas of the Navy, from ships to submarines; but after all of those experiences, Marine Week impressed him the most. Because of Cornell’s focus on submariners and engineering, traditionally Navy trades, Ben says Cornell considered Marines as “fish out of water.” As the only Marine in his graduating class, Ben finished Magna Cum Laude in 2007.

Ben went on to experience four years of active-duty and a year-long tour in Iraq, from 2007 to 2011. First trained in aeronautical supply-chain management, Ben later transitioned to a pure logistician role, where he advised and worked closely with the Iraqi Army on the ground. Ben managed an outpost at his American base supporting a dozen Marines. During his embedment with the Iraqis, Ben helped their units with everything from munitions to helping keep their soldiers clothed.

Ben stands with an Iraqi soldier on one of his tours before Wharton

Ben transitioned out of active-duty and moved to New York City, where he became a trader for Citigroup and stayed plugged into the veteran community during his transition into the Marine Corps Reserves. When he arrived at Wharton for his MBA in 2013, Ben remained in the Reserves and feels that “Wharton did an excellent job supporting my military obligations while I earned my MBA.” After Wharton, Ben went to Deloitte and then onto CVS where he is now, still working hard to connect veterans with one another, plugging them into the greater professional veterans’ network that exists across the United States.

When Ben reflects on his time at Wharton, he acknowledges that he was a busy man. But he managed to find community with Veteran’s Club, which he describes as a “super down-to-Earth, welcoming space with high levels of camaraderie. We were very diverse, from the services we came from; the experiences we had, to what we wanted to do after business school…we would get together at Baby Blues BBQ in University City every Wednesday, which became our landing pad for the group once a week. We’d sit, decompress, and talk about whatever: war stories from the military to our war stories from the class room, and surviving vigorous Wharton’s curriculum. And when I think about my experience at Wharton, those are the days I remember and smile about the most.”

Ben rowing on the Schuylkill River with other Veterans’ Club members in Philadelphia, where Penn rows out of the University Barge Club’s historic boathouse

When asked about what the veteran perspective brings to Wharton and business schools in general, Ben says, “It’s leadership, but I want to qualify that. When I was an MBA student, I wouldn’t have said that with conviction. But now, as a CVS executive, with forty people under me, I see most professionals my age just getting to that point of upper or middle management. The military and Wharton taught me how to think about a team’s culture, the team’s well-being; I learned all of that firsthand, and am really seeing it come to life now, seven years after my Wharton experience.”

People want to hear about veterans’ experiences, and this is something I don’t think a lot of veterans realize. Most veterans are very humble, and most feel an exceptional level of imposter syndrome when they step foot on campus. It’s like ‘oh my goodness, I haven’t done anything academic in years and years.’ But I think every veteran walks out of Wharton saying ‘wait – I did it. I deserved to be here. And, in fact, I might be one of the most successful people here.’”

Ben remains an active veteran in his professional life, including organizing Veterans’ Fireside Chats at CVS, and participating in the MBA Veterans Career Conference, where he once represented Deloitte; now, he tables for CVS, shaking the hands of MBA students and graduates with military experience and helping them get excited about their future careers.

Ben, now a CVS executive, tabling at the 2022 MBA Veterans Conference in Atlanta, GA

Ben’s advice for anyone curious about a veterans’ experience is: “Don’t be shy. A common misconception is that veterans don’t want to talk about their service; but the truth is, most actually love to talk about their experiences in the military. It’s not only energizing but can also be mentally therapeutic. This Veterans Day, I encourage you to ask a veteran to tell you their story. What you’ll learn might just surprise you.”

– Grace Meredith

Posted: November 8, 2022

Wharton Stories

Get Ready: Second-Year MBA Students Give Advice On Wharton’s Team-Based Discussion (TBD)

“Just be yourself! The TBD simulates a real-life experience working on a team as a Wharton student. It’s important to show how YOU best work in a team. Be flexible and adapt as necessary, but make sure to stay true to who you are in a team setting.” — Megan Emery, WG23

The Wharton MBA interview, or Team-Based Discussion (TBD), is a unique element of our admissions process that helps provide a clearer picture of who you are and how you may fit into the Wharton MBA Class. The TBD is meant to model the highly collaborative nature of the Wharton MBA environment to identify characteristics (communication style, level of engagement, leadership skills, decision-making process, etc.) that we believe contribute to the success of a Wharton student. This is an opportunity for you to express who you are as an individual and as a member of a collaborative team.

Our goal is that through this process, you will not only be able to present how you approach and think about certain challenges and opportunities but also have a chance to experience the teamwork and learning dynamic that is central to Wharton culture.

While we aim to make the TBD a fun and interactive experience, we know that all interviews can be a bit stressful. We asked our Admissions Fellows (current second-year students), who facilitate many of the TBDs, for their best tips on how to prepare for your TBD once you receive your invitation to interview.

Priyanka MattalPriyanka Mittal, WG23
Majors:
Business Analytics
Operations, Information and Decisions (OIDD)

“Think of the TBD as a chance to experience what discussions with peers at Wharton would look like. Accordingly, instead of solely focusing on sharing your own ideas, also focus on understanding what others are bringing to the table and learning from them. Wharton is big on team-based activities and a TBD is a great way to assess your fit with the culture.”

 

Ahmed IbrahimAhmed Ibrahim, WG23
Major: Operations, Information and Decisions (OIDD)

“I went through the TBD process twice and the biggest difference between my first and second interview was a change in mindset. I think approaching the TBD as an opportunity to meet other smart individuals and work on a fun project for a short period made a big difference. When I stopped thinking that it was an interview and tried to enjoy the discussion, I performed a lot better. My advice would be to shrug off the stress and try to enjoy the experience and that will probably be the best thing you can do for yourself.”

 

Rhea GroverRhea Grover, WG23
Majors:
Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Quantitative Finance

“I found simulating the TBD with a group of friends extremely helpful. Having gone through the experience in a comfortable setting really helped ease the pressure off for the actual interview and allowed me to truly be myself despite the nerves.”

 

Megan EmeryMegan Emery, WG23
Majors:
Business, Energy, Environment and Sustainability (BEES)
Operations, Information and Decisions (OIDD)

“Reflect on past team situations or assignments – What worked well? What did not? Try to bring the behaviors, ideas, and tactics that worked well in your past teams into the virtual TBD room with you. On the other side, be conscious to avoid the actions that you’ve seen work poorly in group settings.

Alternative advice – Just be yourself! The TBD simulates a real-life experience working on a team as a Wharton student. It’s important to show how YOU best work in a team. Be flexible and adapt as necessary, but make sure to stay true to who you are in a team setting.”

 

Kehinde OdusoteKehinde Odusote, WG23
Major: Strategic Management

“Come ready to listen and reach a group consensus versus focusing on convincing everyone else your idea is the best. Be a good team player by helping to move the conversation forward and helping to foster a productive conversation.”

 

Vandita KamathVandita Kamath, WG23
Majors:
Operations, Information, and Decisions (OIDD)
Strategic Management

“Treat the TBD like a regular work meeting with 5 colleagues. A good starting point is to understand what role you play in these meetings and bring your strengths with you as you enter your TBD.”

 

Vishoka BalasubramanianVishoka Balasubramanian, WG23
Lauder MBA/MA (German/Europe Track)

“The TBD is a great first step towards meeting your future classmates, teammates, and friends. It is an excellent unbiased opportunity to understand the Wharton classroom experience and analyze your fit expectations. Bring your best, empathetic, and true self with the goal of performing as a great team.”

 

Read more about the Wharton Team Based Discussion here. Book a one on one call with one of our Admissions Fellows at any point during your application process to talk more about the Wharton MBA experience.

— Abby Behrends*

*Abby is the Associate Director of Marketing and Communications, MBA Admissions

Posted: October 28, 2022

Wharton Stories

Hispanic Heritage Month at Wharton: WHALASA Welcomes Latino Students to Campus

Image: WHALASA welcomes new members during Latino Welcome Weekend.
“Once you step out of your comfort zone and get to know other people from different backgrounds, different countries, different professional orientations, it’s a very welcoming community [at Wharton]. It’s a very safe space where you can speak about your culture, and people want to listen.” — Oscar Leandro, WG’23

The Wharton Latin American Student Association (WHALASA) is one of Wharton’s largest international student clubs. For the last 40 years WHALASA has hosted cultural events, parties, travel opportunities, and career resources for MBA students from Latin America.

To kick off the new school year and welcome a new group of MBA students into the club, WHALASA hosted a Welcome Weekend event in September. A group of 47 first and second-year students traveled to Hilltop Castle in Northeast Pennsylvania to get to know each other and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. We caught up with Oscar Leandro, WG’23 and WHALASA President, to learn more about the weekend’s events and the Latino community at Wharton.

MBA Admissions: What were some of the highlights from Latino Welcome Weekend?

Oscar: We wanted to make sure that it was a space for Latinos to feel like they could speak Spanish and Portuguese freely, they could ask questions freely, and easily fit in the community, that was our goal. For a lot of Latino students, it’s their first time living in the United States or traveling abroad, so it was very important for us to have this event early in the semester to start giving them a home away from home. We had icebreakers to mix groups together — the idea was to mix first years, second years, and partners together from different countries. As the weekend continued, those different groups were broken down and it became a much more cohesive community. The main goal was for the first years to know that they can ask second years for anything.

Members of WHALASA making arepas
WHALASA members making arepas together during Latino Welcome Weekend.

MBA Admissions: How did you find your own community at Wharton?

Oscar: I find the community at Wharton very inclusive. I think that Wharton is a super close-knit community; the learning teams and cohorts are very cohesive. We’re the biggest MBA school, there are so many people here, and it’s easy to be in your safe zone and not get out of that. But once you step out of your comfort zone and get to know other people from different backgrounds, different countries, different professional orientations, it’s a very welcoming community. It’s a very safe space where you can speak about your culture, and people want to listen.

Getting out of your comfort zone and seeing how hard everyone is hustling at Wharton makes you realize that this is the place to be. The more that you are outside of your comfort zone, the more you will find you’re belonging to Wharton. That is a very important thing to keep in mind. And that’s why we are very much a club that is open to everyone — we want everyone to come to our salsa classes, come to our tastings, come to our parties, come to our conferences, because that is a way that outsiders can engage with the Latino community as well.

MBA Admissions: How does the Latino community foster relationships with new students as they begin their Wharton experience?

Oscar: The first way we connect is through events. These are big, cultural parties to showcase Latino culture with lots of music and salsa dancing, like our upcoming Day of the Dead party.

We’re also working to better connect with [prospective] students while they are applying to Wharton. We’re identifying different colleges in Latin America to promote the Wharton MBA program. We want to hold info sessions for Latin American business schools and coffee chats throughout the application process.

We also plan smaller, intimate gatherings. We’re starting a book club this year and reading books from Latin American authors Gabriel García Márquez and Eduardo Barrios. We explore Latino Philly together, finding Latino-owned grocery stores, shopping and making meals together. It’s a way for everyone to showcase their different countries. There are no barriers between first year and second years, students and partners. The idea is that this is your community outside your country, and that you can reach out to anyone here.

WHALASA Latino Welcome Weekend
WHALASA welcomes new members during Latino Welcome Weekend.

The Wharton Latin American Student Association (WHALASA) celebrates Hispanic heritage at Wharton. Prospective students can connect via @WHALASA on Instagram.

Abby Behrends*

*Abby is the Associate Director of Marketing and Communication, MBA Admissions

 

Posted: October 10, 2022

Wharton Stories

From Super Bowl Champion to Championing Mental Health: Brandon Brooks at Wharton

“When you go through [mental health struggles], you go to dark places where it feels like it’s only you. But only in those times do you really find out who you are, what you stand for, what’s important to you. And from that, you’re built back up and you understand yourself better.” – Brandon Brooks

On a cool October day, Wharton Stories caught up with Brandon Brooks, who retired from the NFL in January 2022 before committing to the pursuit of his full-time MBA at the Wharton School. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Brandon played four seasons with the Houston Texans before joining the Philadelphia Eagles in 2016; he went on to become a Super Bowl champion when the Eagles defeated the Patriots in 2018.

In addition to his celebrity status, Brandon is a mental health advocate, vocal about his personal struggles with stress-related anxiety. He spoke to Wharton Stories about his journey from the field to the classroom, and the hurdles he continues to overcome between those worlds.

Brandon Brooks, former NFL player, now at Wharton

As a kid from Milwaukee, did you ever expect to become a professional football player?

No – I never thought I would go pro, but kept playing well because I thought it was the opportunity for a free education so my parents wouldn’t have to figure out how to pay for college. I ended up playing pro in the NFL for ten years, but you can’t beat Father Time; and in January, I realized it was time to retire.

How did playing pro impact your mental health?

Professional sports is the only career where you’re expected to be a CEO on Day One. But in any career, you’re never going to be the best your first day, or even in your first year. And if you have a bad game and a thousand people tweet negative things at you, you’re going to see it, no matter what. Often times, you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

As a football player, you’re looked at as a modern day gladiator; which is rewarding, but also brutal. I will never speak ill of the NFL because of the opportunities the game has provided for my family. That being said: I don’t have a problem with masculinity, but I have a problem with toxic masculinity, hyper masculinity. In that framework, men are told to be tough, to never show emotion, to never get too high or too low. But that’s not real life. We all have emotions: agony, joy, defeat, sadness. Too many young men are told to suppress their emotions; they’re told to “never feel depressed, never feel anxious.” But there are many ways that your emotions will come out, whether you like it or not, and understanding our emotions is natural – that’s a part of life. 

As for me, I’ve always struggled with perfectionism. Perfectionism often stems from a control aspect, where you want to do everything right every time. And if something goes wrong, things can feel out of control; but being perfect in and of itself is an unrealistic expectation.  

What advice would you give to those who struggle with the impact of pressure, perfectionism, and anxiety?

I would best describe my own experiences with anxiety as like being in the middle of the ocean, with water lapping over your head while you struggle to just bob over the waves. But you have to keep swimming. I love football so much it would drive me insane; but that’s why I also stand by my breakdowns and my meltdowns on the field, and I wouldn’t change them for the world, because they showed me who I am.

Understanding why you feel this way, who you are, and understanding why you’re different – embrace that. There’s a lot of negative associations with mental health, coping with it, dealing with it, and my anxiety gets out of control sometimes. It makes me double-check, triple-check everything that I do. But instead of perceiving my own mind as a weakness, I reframe my perception of myself into strength – if I weren’t this way, then maybe I wouldn’t have the level of success that I’ve achieved. I’ve come to the conclusion that the people who change the world were often considered weird at one time or another because of the way that they consider problems uniquely. Look at your own differences as a strength. 

People are so scared to stumble, but that is the process towards growth. It shows you how strong you really are. As long as you keep going forward, one day it will end, one day it will be over, and there are brighter days ahead. Reach out for help if you need it. There’s a million different ways to get help, from exercise to sitting in the woods to therapy, but find the one that works for you. 

What’s your favorite coping mechanism? 

As my coach used to say: ‘You need to understand that it’s not going to be all lollipops and rainbows everyday.’ And to a certain extent, that works. When I was playing, I used to think about the law of averages. You’re not going to be perfect every day. Instead of expecting myself to be a 10/10 player – a perfect player – I thought of myself as a 9/10. That way, regardless of if I played a 7/10 game or a 10/10 game, I could accept my performance and be kind to myself. A lot of people struggle with the ‘get up and get going’ part. I’ve found that’s where people often fall short. But that’s the only way. And if you need to step away from something, if your social battery is low, if you need 24 hours – give yourself some grace. Just take care of yourself. You come first. 

Brandon with the Super Bowl trophy after the Eagles defeated the Patriots in February 2018

So why Wharton? 

This past summer was the first free summer I’ve had in 21 years. But the way I ended up at Wharton was because I tried the big three – law, medical, and business – and interned at various locations until I figured out what I wanted to do. But Wharton is the best business school in the world, and I realized I have a major passion for increasing financial literacy in my community. I would love to implement programs at the middle and high school levels that teach kids how to do taxes, how to manage money, and how these skills will set them up for success.

So many kids dream of becoming a professional athlete; but, statistically, you have a better chance of being a doctor or a lawyer than ever being a football player. I want kids to understand that the most important thing to secure your happiness and future success is the ability to feed your family and give both them and yourself a comfortable life. There is so much more I can achieve and others can achieve beyond the world of sports.

Grace Meredith and Devon Chodzin

Posted:

Wharton Stories

Wharton Welcomes Two New Majors and Concentrations: DEI and ESGB

“In recent years, our students have challenged us to do more to prepare them for the new realities of leadership, which involve creating and sustaining diverse, equitable, and inclusive organizations.” – Stephanie Creary, Associate Professor of Management

Introduction of new concentrations and majors will prepare future leaders for the evolving global landscape

Over its nearly 150 years as the global leader in business education, the Wharton School’s continued curricular evolution remains a cornerstone by which the School’s excellence is sustained. This month, as the University of Pennsylvania’s fall semester unfolded, Wharton again applied this philosophy in acknowledgement of the rising relevance of two burgeoning industry priorities.

Wharton’s Curriculum Innovation and Review Committee (CIRC) voted to approve the introduction of two official curricular designations to the School’s existing fold of robust and renowned educational opportunities: 1) Environmental, Social and Governance Factors for Business (ESGB), and 2) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Both ESGB and DEI are available to function as either a concentration at the undergraduate level or a major at the MBA level, and will see its first students graduate in May 2025. As Deputy Dean Nancy Rothbard puts it: “We are proud and delighted that Wharton will be offering these new concentrations and majors, supported by the School’s world-class evidence-based curriculum. We look forward to seeing what our graduates accomplish.”

This decision came in response to the extensive undergrad and graduate-level interest in coursework devoted to these developing areas in business. As Stephanie Creary, Assistant Professor in the Management Department, who has taught the Leading Diversity in Organizations course at the MBA and UG level for several years, explains “in recent years, our students have challenged us to do more to prepare them for the new realities of leadership, which involve creating and sustaining diverse, equitable, and inclusive organizations. However, only recently have we had sufficient coursework to support students’ wishes to become more prepared for DEI-focused careers or leaders of DEI-related change in any organizational role.”

Vice Dean of Entrepreneurship Lori Rosenkopf notes, “While the Management department has offered relevant coursework in this area for some time, we were delighted to create this new major for MBA students and new concentration for undergraduate students.” Thus, the DEI concentration/major will be administered by the management department, and will explore issues such as equality and discrimination from an organizational content. “We can’t wait for the first students to graduate with the official DEI major in 2025, and continue to lead in helping companies become more diverse, equal, inclusive, and, thus ultimately, competitive on the global stage,” notes Corinne Low, Assistant Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy.

As Wharton’s existing Business, Energy, Environment and Sustainability (BEES) concentration/major is highly popular, it is set to continue as a specialization within the new ESGB concentration/major, in addition to a new specialization called Social and Governance (SOGO). SOGO is also a major for MBA students. ESGB will be jointly administered by three departments – Legal Studies and Business Ethics (LGST), Management (MGMT) and Business Economics and Public Policy (BEPP). Vice Dean of Wharton’s ESG Initiative Vit Henisz reminds us that “Mobilizing business to address ‘social problems incident to our civilization’ was the rallying cry of our school’s founder Joseph Wharton.” In this spirit, the Wharton community celebrates the future students of these concentrations and majors, and looks forward to welcoming them to campus in September 2023.

-Grace Meredith, Wharton Staff

Posted: September 27, 2022

Wharton Stories

Application Tips from the MBA Admissions Committee

“We have a read to admit philosophy, which means that in every application we are looking for reasons to admit you and not reasons to deny you. We are looking for your best day and not your worst.” – Blair Mannix, Director of Admissions

At Wharton, we’re committed to taking the overwhelm out of the MBA Application process. We want to provide you with a better understanding of our application process, and what we’re looking for when we read your application.

“We have a read to admit philosophy, which means that in every application we are looking for reasons to admit you and not reasons to deny you. We are looking for your best day and not your worst.” – Blair Mannix, Director of Admissions

We asked members of our Admissions Committee for their best tips to keep in mind when completing your application.

Alix, Senior Associate Director of Admissions

“Here are some common small errors I see when reading applications. Don’t forget to proofread a few times and get someone else’s eyes on your application before you submit!

• Make sure the date ranges of your degrees and professional experiences on your resume match what you’re adding into your application.
• Be careful when copy/pasting essays from Word or Notepad. Sometimes the formatting can get wonky when pasting into the application, so double check that your essays are easy on the eyes before you submit.
• If you’re applying to more than one school, take extra care to make sure the correct school’s name is in your essays.”

Jake, Director of the Moelis Advance Access Program

“An unfortunate spillover effect from the undergraduate admissions processes is that so many candidates (incorrectly) feel the need to craft some compelling reason(s) for admission. In reality, business school applications contain so much more of a candidate’s history – entire collegiate career, full-time work experience, and other lived experiences – every candidate will naturally be unique in the pool and the best way to find success in the process is to help us forecast their ability to thrive at Wharton and in their future career.”

Jeb, Director of Operations

“Be strategic when crafting your essays – a lot of candidates fall into the trap of reiterating their resumes. We can easily scroll to your resume in the application, so take the opportunity to present new information in your narrative. Feel free to use elements of your other application components as connecting points but avoid a direct rehashing of something you’ve already shared.”

Quinton, Senior Associate Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

“Your short-term and long-term goals are important, but so is your personal narrative of how you’ve arrived at this point in your life. Don’t neglect the story of your journey! It’s made you stronger and an important part of who you are.”

Blair, Director of Admissions

“When you craft your resume, think about who is reading it. The Wharton MBA Admissions Committee is looking to see your development as a professional and we know that does not always reflect in job titles. Think about writing your resume highlighting the skills you have gained and what you have learned as a professional during your career.

A lot of people worry about differentiating themselves in the application process but one thing that I think is important to understand about our side of the table is that applications feel so vastly different so quickly. Every applicant is different, different educational histories, different backgrounds, different career paths and goals for the program.”

The Admissions Committee has created a comprehensive Application Guide available for download to provide insight and advice on submitting a successful application that puts your academic accomplishments, leadership potential, and your personal and community contributions on display.

— Abby Behrends, Associate Director of Marketing and Communication, MBA Admissions

Posted: August 31, 2022

Wharton Stories

How WIVA Students Are Advocating For Youth Mental Health With A Startup

“I was fortunate to grow up playing competitive sports, which helped me build a sense of belief that I could bounce back from any setback. I firmly believe that SuperBetter can develop those same capacities.” – Jan Jaro, WG’23

Students at Wharton Impact Venture Associates (WIVA), an experiential investing program at the Wharton School, are excited to connect SuperBetter to the crowdfunding platform Republic for a potential impact investment. SuperBetter is a science-backed mental health startup addressing mental health challenges for youth.

The U.S. is facing a youth mental health crisis, the scale of which is alarming. According to a CDC study in 2018-19, 15% of children aged 12 – 17 years old had a major depressive episode, 37% had persistent feelings of sadness, and nearly 20% seriously considered suicide, and the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these issues.

Enter SuperBetter. SuperBetter is an app that uses the psychology of game play to help youth and young adults learn to set goals, measure progress, and celebrate wins. Over 1 million people have played SuperBetter, and the World Economic Forum recently named SuperBetter 1 of 14 ‘top innovators’ globally’ in their Youth Mental Health Challenge. In addition, the company has a new collaboration with Parkland Health System to empower at-risk teens in Dallas.

A published trial conducted by Penn researchers found that playing on the app for 10 minutes daily was associated with a 49% reduction in depression symptoms and a 61% reduction in anxiety symptoms over the course of only 6 weeks.

“Our North Star is to unlock the heroic potential of 50 million youth and young adults in the next 5 years. Our proven methodology empowers resilience, life skills, and mental health.” says CEO Keith Wakeman“We’re excited to work closely with Republic to help us exponentially scale our company and help teens develop resilience and confidence.”

Jan Jaro (WG ‘23), a dual-degree Wharton MBA and Harvard Kennedy School MPA student, connected with Keith in the fall and was excited by SuperBetter’s theory of change and traction. “Our early years are deeply formative and have major implications on our ability to reach our full academic, earnings, and personal potential,” Jan said. “I was fortunate to grow up playing competitive sports, which helped me build a sense of belief that I could bounce back from any setback. I firmly believe that SuperBetter can develop those same capacities.”

Jan and the rest of the WIVA team performed business, financial, and impact research on the company. In particular, the WIVA team was excited to see how games could be used to developing resilience. “We’re excited by the company’s growth and can’t wait to see Keith, Jane, and the rest of the team make a huge positive impact on the lives of youth.”

DISCLAIMER:

Neither the University of Pennsylvania, the Wharton School, Wharton Impact Venture Associates (WIVA), nor any of their respective students, faculty, directors, officers, employees, representatives, affiliates, or agents (collectively, the “Penn Parties”) (i) is acting as underwriter, broker-dealer, promoter, financial advisor, or other intermediary with respect to any offering of securities by any entity mentioned in this article, or (ii) has received or will receive any compensation from any person or entity as an incentive to publish of this article.  In addition, the Penn Parties have not received and will not receive any compensation or other item of value in connection with any possible or future investment in any securities issued by any entity mentioned herein.

Any research or diligence described above (i) was performed by WIVA solely for its own, limited, educational purposes, and not for the purpose of aiding any person in making any investment decision, and (ii) may be limited and incomplete, by its very nature, as a result of limited publicly available information and other limited information voluntarily made available to WIVA.  No Penn Party shall have any liability whatsoever arising from any error or incompleteness of fact or opinion in, or lack of care in the preparation or publication of, this article.

Copyright ©2022 the Wharton School.  All rights reserved.  The information, methodologies, data and opinions contained or reflected herein are proprietary of the Wharton School and/or its students, are intended for non-commercial use, and may not be copied, distributed or used in any way, including via citation, unless otherwise explicitly agreed in writing.  They are provided for informational purposes only and (1) do not constitute investment or financial advice; (2) cannot be interpreted as an offer, indication, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell any securities or to undertake any kind of business transactions; (3) do not represent an assessment of any issuer’s economic performance, financial obligations nor of its creditworthiness; and (4) are not a substitute for a professional financial, legal, and tax advice.

Posted: August 24, 2022

Wharton Stories

An Inside Look at Navigating Pre-MBA Programs and Early Recruiting at Wharton

“I think early recruiting helped me decide what I wanted to do. I was looking at big FinTech companies, consulting, and VC firms. I realized in the middle of the VC interview that VC was 100% not for me. I also realized that I didn’t want to do large fintech, so that was another positive outcome.”

What are Pre-MBA Programs and Early Recruiting?

Prior to joining Wharton, some students choose to participate in pre-MBA programs and internships for early career exploration, or to build their network. Pre-MBA programs and internships are designed to help students prepare for their MBA experience and learn about potential career paths through educational and networking activities, events, workshops, or multi-week internships. These types of programs are offered across a range of industries including consulting, finance, health care, tech, consumer products, and more. Pre-MBA programs can help students connect with companies in industries of interest, and can sometimes lead to an early offer for a summer internship between their first and second year of the MBA program.

Pre-MBA internships and experiences are not a required part of the Wharton MBA Program, but many students find they help build confidence and a career network before starting their MBA. Earlier this semester, Kyle Rodriguez (WG’23) shared his pre-MBA experience and tips to navigate the early recruitment process with Wharton MBA Career Management.

Before coming to Wharton, Kyle participated in Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), JumpStart Advisory Group, Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA), and is a Toigo Fellow. With several years of full-time experience in consulting, he was prepared to come to Wharton and pursue a career in FinTech. Participating in pre-MBA programs allowed Kyle to talk to a variety of different companies, deepen his personal career goals, and ultimately solidify his MBA summer internship before arriving for his first year on campus. “I did early interviews and coffee chats with AmEx, Visa, BCG, Bain BASE, and a few VC firms.”

Each company approaches early recruiting differently, but much of the process is like an application process, with candidates moving on to subsequent interview rounds after showing interest in initial conversations. “BCG did Principal meetings in small groups throughout the summer, and then they flew me to Boston or Chicago for a couple days to interview early.”

How to prepare for your pre-MBA experience

Once invited to interview, most companies will give candidates a week to prepare, with specific instructions and demonstrations of what they are looking for. To prepare for his early interviews, Kyle decided to leverage the network he was already creating at Wharton. “I reached out to current Wharton students who were interning at these companies to see what resources they could share. I [also] did a lot of alumni outreach. Once you have Wharton on your LinkedIn profile, alumni are more than happy to connect with you.”

After pursuing a few different companies and industries with dreams of landing in a fintech startup, Kyle accepted an offer in consulting for his summer internship. Though his plans of switching careers changed, the early recruiting process helped him find clarity in his career path.  “I think early recruiting helped me decide what I wanted to do. I was looking at big FinTech companies, consulting, and VC firms. I realized in the middle of the VC interview that VC was 100% not for me. I also realized that I didn’t want to do large FinTech, so that was another positive outcome.”

Outside of pre-MBA programs and early recruiting, there are several ways to explore different industries and prepare for a career change once students arrive on campus. When it came to exploring the FinTech and Startup spaces on campus, Kyle recalls joining Wharton’s Entrepreneurship Club, FinTech Club, and Business Analytics Club which allowed him to build tactical industry skills and learn firsthand experiences from his classmates who had previously worked in those industries.

“I did early recruiting so that I could make meaningful impacts on campus, which I’ve been able to do. I’m a Student Life Fellow, which is a big commitment but really rewarding, and a great way to connect with a bunch of people on campus. Having recruiting out of the way before coming to campus, you are able to get involved in areas where you usually wouldn’t have time. You’re not as stressed in the fall.”

The Wharton MBA Career Management Office helps students leverage and build upon previous professional accomplishments and provides personalized support on the journey to achieve internship and full-time success.

— Abby Behrends, Associate Director of Marketing and Communications, MBA Admissions

Posted: August 16, 2022

Wharton Stories

Udai Bhardwaj Decriminalized Homosexuality In India. Now, He’s Coming To Wharton.

He and his team of lawyers, all of whom identify as LGBTQIA+, argued successfully to decriminalize homosexuality in the Indian Supreme Court.

I spoke with Udai Bhardwaj, Wharton’s 2022 PRISM Fellowship recipient and incoming WG’24 student, who galvanized a movement in India to decriminalize homosexuality. He and his friends took their fight to the Indian Supreme Court in 2018, and found victory on September 6 of that year. Udai told me what it took to beat bigotry on a federal level from his pre-term vacation in a seaside town in Goa, India. He traveled there with friends who are also incoming Wharton MBA students.

He joined me via Zoom, wearing a colorful button-up and his trademark smile. His jet-black hair had streaks of color: threaded braids, which his friends convinced him to have done by the local women who braid hair on the beach.

Hello, Udai! Please tell me a little bit about yourself – where you grew up and a bit about your childhood. 

I am twenty-seven-years-old and grew up in Delhi. I have a twin sister and older sister who I love very much. I had a very happy childhood until my parents divorced when I was twelve, which was really hard on me and my family. My mother juggled us kids and her work as a public school teacher. She is a hurricane of a person. I am estranged from my father; he will probably only find out I am going to Wharton when this article comes out. 

Please tell me about your experience with LGBTQIA+ activism in India. 

There wasn’t really a pure inflection point for me, but my activism was more of a natural evolution of my work. When I got to college, I headed our LGBTQIA+ Resource and Support Group. My alma mater, which is a chapter of the prestigious India Institute of Technology schools, is located in a remote part of India which is not a liberal place. It was a small school, which was challenging, because when we started there were not many members – but we still established ourselves and managed to create a safe space. By the time I graduated college, I came out as a gay man to my close friends and family. 

I felt comfortable with myself and confident in who I am as a person. But the law fell behind the times. It was a colonial-era law called Section 377 that always hung over our heads, a looming threat that reminded us that we were second-class citizens. We were always at risk: I constantly heard stories of extortion, like criminals on dating apps who lured young gay men to meetups, then blackmailed them with threats to either expose them publicly or hand them over to the police. And the police were no different. They targeted gay cruising spots, would approach people and say: ‘homosexuality is illegal and can get you thrown in jail for ten years; therefore, empty your bank account and give us your money. Only then can you go on your way.’  

Because homosexuality was criminalized, there could be no talk of anything further. Forget gay marriage or adoption. At that time, we couldn’t have any protection from discrimination because our identity itself was illegal. We needed to decriminalize gayness before we could do anything else. 

The decriminalization of homosexuality in India is a huge deal. How did you accomplish this historic feat? 

One of the toughest things was that homosexuality was actually decriminalized first in 2009 by the Delhi High Court, but then was criminalized again in 2013 – re-criminalized, essentially. For a lot of LGBTQIA+ Indian activists, this seemed like the end of the road. I began my adulthood as a criminal in India, because when I turned eighteen homosexuality was illegal yet again. 

In 2017, however, the right to privacy was declared as a fundamental right to all Indian citizens. For us gay activists, we realized we could argue that private sexual acts between consenting adults is protected under that same right to privacy. At that moment, my friends and I realized that it was really important for actual LGBTQIA+ individuals to step forward and go to court and say “we are here, we are real.”

And because of my privilege of being out and having support, I felt it was my responsibility to be an activist. I also work for American Express, an American company, so I knew I wouldn’t be fired or discriminated against because of my sexuality. 

Who supported you? 

Ultimately, I accessed twenty LGBTQIA+ people, all of whom belonged to the network from the Indian Institutes of Technology. We were among the best of the best – the schools are the equivalent of the American Ivy League – and filed a petition with a law firm. We appointed a media liaison, and before I knew it I was on CNN, the BBC, and even India Live. My mother did not want me to do the media circuit, nor did my sisters. They said things like “It’s too dangerous. All the neighbors will know; the watchman will know; the milkman will know. You’ll get hate-crimed.” Luckily, that did not happen. 

After that, our team of lawyers, headed by two women, argued successfully to get the law repealed in the Supreme Court. The judgment was released on September 6, 2018; and now, the first week of September, Indians celebrate Pride, just as Americans do for the month of June. And as it turns out, our two female lawyers were actually closeted LGBTQIA+ women who were in a secret relationship; and, after the victory, were inspired to come out and now live happily together. 

Udai celebrates with his co-petitioners on September 6, 2018

What are your plans for the future? What is your dream scenario for where your MBA might take you next? 

One thing I want to study is how to build more inclusive spaces in the workplace, and answer: how do we deal with issues of discrimination at work? It’s what I want to practice when I move to the USA. 

I always want to be an ambassador for the community. Having gay role models was something I really needed growing up and I didn’t have. I want to understand DEIA in the workplace better, and I know Wharton can help me better understand how to apply DEIA principles in the workplace. 

I have been involved in data science for American Express as well as building marketing campaigns for AmEx. In the near future, maybe I’ll join an early start-up; but for now, my plan is to work in AI and/or the business analytics domain. I am so excited about what my future holds and how a Wharton MBA will help me achieve my dreams.

– Grace Meredith

Posted: June 30, 2022

Related Content

Read More Stories