Breaks from school, even the short ones in winter and spring, have been great opportunities to assess my dreams, make note of any positive or negative changes in my life and set new goals for the short term. In a sense, they are like life checkpoints—moments to remind myself to not take a single day for granted.
Freshman summer was a hard break to plan for several reasons. You want to reward yourself after your first year of university, yet you need a job that will afford you that relaxing summer. You think about summer classes, but the intensity might not be what you’re looking for. You could also try to acquire an internship, although your upperclassmen mentors tell you that it’s not necessary.
During my first summer session, I worked a few hours a week at the Library Development Office and started a new position as an editorial assistant at Wharton Magazine. It was the first time I worked nine to five nearly all week. Commuting from my home in Central New Jersey to Philadelphia, I came to appreciate a train that arrived on time and a comfortable seat during rush hour. I read books, grew addicted to Sudoku and observed the other commuters around me.
At the Wharton Magazine office, I did what I love: reading and editing articles, among various other tasks. While this work may seem mundane to some, it was quite the opposite for me. I’ve been editing for years now, and have learned that what differentiates an interesting project from a boring one is its topic.
By reviewing pieces submitted by Wharton professors, I was exposed to their various specialties. By reading Wharton Blog Network submissions, I gained access to the thoughts and works of leading businesspeople in the Wharton network. By editing the magazine’s Class Notes section, I saw the myriad paths down which my life can lead me mirrored in the updates of each alumnus.
Beginning to work for Wharton Magazine on my break was one of the smallest but most impactful decisions I’ve made since coming to Penn. I arrived on campus much more oriented toward my major in the College of Arts & Sciences than my Wharton major. Now I realize a Wharton degree offers a plethora of opportunities. I am not tied down to finance as a career. Whatever I chose to concentrate in will prove useful regardless of whether I end up working in that particular field for 5, 10 or 30 years after graduation.
I’ve learned that Wharton’s alumni are asset managers, investment bankers, nonprofit directors, consultants, professors, parents, entrepreneurs, lawyers, policymakers and state treasurers. Each is unique in his or her own way, but they all have one major factor in common: they benefitted from the value of a Wharton education. Looking at their accomplishments is what gives us current students hope for a bright, exciting and fulfilling future.