First-year Wharton MBAs come to campus with preconceived notions about their goals for their education and their future careers. Some do complete that linear, focused course. By the end of their two years, though, many Wharton MBAs are doing and being things they never thought possible before.
With that in mind, we wanted to capture those initial hopes and dreams while they are still fresh in the students’ minds. So during the first weeks of classes, we caught up with a handful of the students to get a quick read on their expectations and plans.
If there’s one thing you want to be able to do when you graduate in two years, we asked, what would that be?
“Can I have two?” responds Divya Narayanan, who comes to Wharton by way of Google and Bain. “First, I want to learn to manage a team in a way that’s authentic to who I am. Second, I want to be able to perform fearlessly when I’m least confident—whether singing in Battle of the Bands or crewing a ship in the Pacific.”
(Narayanan is, of course, referring to two events that highlight an MBA’s year: the Tall Ships Sailing expedition put on by Wharton Leadership Ventures and the rock-out presented by the Wharton Marketing Club, footage of which is below.)
Other first-year Wharton MBA students have leadership in mind too.
Allie Miller, whose marketing background includes winning national ad competitions for Smucker’s and Hasbro, is building an experience that “isn’t merely an academic exercise.”
“As I’m engaging and absorbing in the classroom, I also want to be honing my skills of action—stepping into leadership roles and contributing to my community. At the end of my two years at Wharton, I want to proudly look back and say: I’m ready to put my learning into practice,” she says.
Unexpectedly, the Wharton MBA experience can also be a time to learn how to follow a leader too. Vince Kuchar is fresh out of 10 years in the U.S. Army. During seven deployments, he earned three Bronze Stars, a Joint Service Commendation Medal for Valor, and two Meritorious Service Medals for command of over 100 soldiers.
“I spent 10 years in leadership roles. Coming out of Wharton and being able to be a great follower and a great team member is something I am really focused on because I haven’t been on peer-oriented or peer-led teams in 10 years,” he says.
Wharton MBA student priorities also mesh with School priorities—namely, entrepreneurship and business analytics.
Sichen Huang comes to Wharton already with an impressive entrepreneurial resume of bending business models and pushing boundaries in China—for instance, by co-founding Kunlun Fight, China’s leading mixed martial arts TV show.
“I want to capitalize on the experience at Wharton and take my interests in entrepreneurship further with our fellow classmates to explore exciting business opportunities in China,” he says.
James Kwon is owner of Coreanos, a Mexican restaurant brand that’s one of the fastest-growing in Korea. He aims for more growth for it—while he also plans to explore franchise consulting and food-and-beverage venture investing during his time at Wharton.
Another case in point: Trevor Young, who is a three-time national and two-time international medalist in figure skating—and alternate for the 2010 Olympic Games for pairs figure skating. His goal after two years at Wharton:
“I want to assist young athletes achieve their goals by helping them unlock the power of analytics in their given sports. The power of data in the athletic community is continuing to gain global momentum, but most sports are just starting to scratch the surface when it comes to using data to further an athlete’s development. I want to help bring sports analytics to the millions training to reach their potential.”
Yes, students’ backgrounds can drive their first-year goals at Wharton (but don’t be surprised when they change by year two).
Want to feel some of the excitement that’s coursing through first-year Wharton MBAs? Watch below for the welcome video created for the Wharton MBA Class of 2017 when they were first admitted this past December.