When Wharton San Francisco EMBA student Greg Vaisberg came to Philadelphia for a class session during his first term, he enjoyed being on the East Coast campus so much that he decided to come back. We asked him to tell us more about the experience of taking electives on both coasts. Here is what the senior corporate counsel of Oracle said:
On coming to Wharton San Francisco:
One of the most salient things about Wharton San Francisco is that you can get the Wharton MBA experience on the West Coast. I’m based in the Bay Area so that meant I didn’t even have to commute to go to Wharton, which was phenomenal. However, shortly after we started the first semester, our class participated in a joint weekend on the Philadelphia campus. I realized that there is a whole other set of Wharton EMBA students to get to know and a beautiful campus in Philadelphia to connect with. I asked if it was possible to take classes here and discovered that EMBA students can take a few electives or even entire terms on the other coast during their second year.
On taking courses on both coasts:
I decided to major in finance and strategic management so that required a certain set of classes. By going to Philadelphia for a few electives, I could more efficiently complete the required courses and get to know my East Coast classmates better. But I didn’t want to miss out on anything with my classmates in San Francisco so I continued to take courses in San Francisco too. This meant that I was in school every weekend, flying to Philadelphia every other session. In hindsight, it was very taxing, but it also was exhilarating. Interestingly, about 10 of my San Francisco classmates were also on the Philadelphia campus during that semester.
On expanding your network:
My San Francisco classmates and I were all so welcomed by our Philadelphia counterparts that we quickly became part of that class and felt connected to the campus. That is the beauty of a bicoastal program – you can spend a term or even half a term on the other coast and make twice the number of connections. And by coming to Philadelphia, I really got a sense for what it’s like to be a student on the Penn campus. Now that I’m back in the Bay Area, I miss my friends on the East Coast and am already planning ways to see them soon.
On other opportunities to connect:
Wharton’s EMBA program starts off with a full week on your home campus. This is a time when you develop very strong bonds with your class, especially your learning team. About three months into the program, the San Francisco students fly to Philadelphia for a class weekend. This is your first opportunity to meet the students on the other coast so you need to try to make the most of it.
The next formal opportunity to mix with those classmates is during the international class trip at the end of your first year. You’ll get to choose from a number of locations and topics of interest and then go on a week-long trip with students from both coasts. I went to South Africa and the students on my trip were 50% from the West Coast campus and 50% from the East Coast campus. It was phenomenal to spend more time with them. That really reconfirmed my decision to take some electives in Philadelphia.
On making the most of both campuses:
I strongly recommend spending time on the other campus. If you’re a Philadelphia student, then think about coming to San Francisco where you’ll be in one of the most vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems in the world and expose yourself to a different cross section of industries while getting your MBA at Wharton. If you are a West Coast student, definitely try to spend time with your peers in Philadelphia. This type of flexibility is very unique to Wharton so try to take advantage of it while you can.