While the second-year Wharton EMBA students recently headed to China for their international seminar trips, first-year students had a unique weekend of their own when the Wharton | San Francisco students flew to Philadelphia to attend classes. The annual Philadelphia trip is a highlight of the program and a chance for first-year students on both coasts to meet each other and expand their networks.
The weekend’s activities kicked off with a speed networking event. First-year Wharton | San Francisco student Eric Sheng, who is operations general manager at Nvidia in Santa Clara, explains, “We got to request the background of the types of people we wanted to meet at that event. I spent most of my life on the West Coast so I was really interested to hear about industry issues from people on the East Coast,” he says. “It was kind of exhausting to condense all of that into five-minute conversations, but during the hour I got to meet 12 really interesting people.”
After that, there were plenty of other opportunities to network and bond at dinners and happy hours. Sheng says, “We even had a dance off between the two coasts and I’m happy to say that the West Coast won. It was fun watching everyone break out of their shell and getting to know them in an informal setting.”
Sheng, who arrived on Tuesday and departed the following Monday, says that he also made sure to tour the campus and meet full-time MBA students as well. “There is a sense of belonging that you get from visiting the main campus. That weekend, there were plenty of student activities going on like a club expo and happy hours organized by the full-time MBA students so I attended a couple of those and plan to build the bond with that group too.”
On his last day on the East Coast, Sheng also participated in a Leadership Trek for EMBA students to Gettysburg, led by Prof. Michael Useem. “About 40 students from both coasts went on the trek and I got to know even more East Coast students as well as participate in great discussions about leadership,” he says.
First-year East Coast EMBA student Jennifer McGrew, vice president of Brandywine Global Investment Management in Philadelphia and the social coordinator for her class, helped organize many of the social events for the weekend. She says, “Beforehand, I got in touch with my counterpart on the West Coast to talk about what we could do to keep students engaged with more social activities. On Friday, we had a school-sponsored event and then we continued networking at a happy hour. Starting with the speed networking event all the way through to the Gettysburg Trek, the whole weekend was filled with opportunities to get to know each other.”
McGrew adds, “The program is like a three-legged stool with academics, career progression, and the network. The relationships you build in the program will last a lifetime and the weekend was a great time to make more of those connections. It really adds to the overall experience to build this amazing network of really interesting people who work in all kinds of different industries and locations.”