I remember when I was applying to Wharton a few years ago, and I reached the part of the application regarding my extracurricular activities. I started to panic. I hadn’t really had any meaningful extracurricular activities since I had started working in my demanding post-college job. I had been singularly focused on getting promoted –and the blank lines on the “other activities” section of the application were blatantly informing me that being promoted was not enough. I needed to be contributing to my community.
My two years at Wharton reinforced the idea. “Get involved” was an ideal that everyone from the Dean on down seemed to embody –and get involved my peers and I did. It felt that no matter how busy people were with classwork and recruiting, they managed to find time for clubs, volunteering, conferences and a million other things.
One of the initiatives that I was so happy to be involved with was Wharton’s Cohort Cup. This was a fun competition between the 12 cohorts (first and second years together in a team). As one of the Student Life directors in the WGA along with Colin Brown, WG’11, and Aarthi Sowrirajan, WG’11, I had the opportunity to plan events that business schools seem to have become famous for: an “epic” dodge-ball tournament (as it was described to me by an enthusiastic participant), a trivia competition and a Penn Relays-style field day. These events were big –and sometimes difficult to coordinate for 400 students–but they were fun and really brought our community together. Well worth it.
Then I graduated and started working, and of course I have the same constraints that I had before business school. But this time, I want to be focused not only on “the climb” but also on my outside impact.
I haven’t figured out the balance yet, and discussions with friends and mentors seem to suggest there really isn’t a right way to go about figuring out how to have an impact outside of work. I just know that it’s easy to get bogged down in the immediate pressures of any job, and it’s important to try and look beyond just next week’s deadline.