Learning from Stan Lee

Natty Leach, Associate Director

image credit: https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/stan-lee-reflects-on-his-legacy

Too many people don’t really do what their heart’s desire is, but they try to do something else because they think—well, it will be easier to get a job or to make money. And if that happens, then when you’re doing it you feel like you’re working, but if you do what you really want to do, you feel like you’re playing.

With Stan Lee’s passing earlier this week, the world lost one of the creative minds responsible for some of our most popular characters and heroes in entertainment today. In remembering his legacy, I was considering the ways in which we can learn from Stan Lee’s career and was struck by the quote above: it’s nothing special. At face value, it’s just some inspirationally packaged platitudes that we’ve all heard about following our dreams and doing what you love. What stood out about the quote is that Stan Lee got his start and gained prominence doing almost the exact opposite—taking an easy-entry job to earn cash and get started in the writing and publishing industry even if it meant working in a less desirable medium like comics.

Stanley Lieber turned 18 right around the Great Depression. With a love of reading and desire to become a writer, he landed a job through a family connection at Timely Comics, a precursor to Marvel, the now Disney-owned behemoth. In an interview with the New York Times, he explains how comics were so trivialized by people at the time that Lieber felt the need to create a pseudonym to shield himself and hopefully his future, more serious, writing career by dividing his first name to form Stan Lee. One of Lee’s primary goals in the comic industry was to change it and force the medium to evolve by creating more layered characters with stronger stories.

In these ways, Stan Lee started by taking a job that didn’t really meet all his dreams or goals—it was a quick way to gain some writing skills, but in a field that he felt he had to shield his future reputation by adopting a new name. Even if at the beginning, comics weren’t Lee’s loftiest passion, he brought his desire for powerful characters and writing to his career and leveraged his love of literature to take the medium to greater heights. While doing exactly what you love and desire is an excellent goal for us all, we can see from the results of Stan Lee’s inspiring legacy that sometimes bringing what you love to what you do is just as meaningful.





The City of Good Air

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Karen Herrera, COL/WH ’21

Vibrant streets filled with the sounds of passionate tangos, blaring protests, and ardent debates housed my stay for two months in the beautiful city of Buenos Aires. Thanks to the Summer Funding Award granted by Career Services, I was able to make this far-fetched dream a reality.

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern at an information technology and services firm called Lyncros. Through the Penn Abroad Global Internship Program (GIP) in Buenos Aires, I was able to go through a series of interviews in order to match to a company that would introduce me to my interests. Initially, I had applied looking to be a marketing intern, but as the internship start date got closer, my supervisors and I decided that business development would be better suited for the company’s needs and the exposure and skills I wanted to get out of my experience. This was my first internship and an introduction to a potential career in business. Fortunately, it played a great part in validating my decision to apply to a dual degree between Wharton and the College.

My project for the summer consisted of introducing one of Lyncros’ solutions, Connect, to various universities in the Latin America and U.S. market with the purpose of acquiring new clients. Connect is a tool that facilitates alumni relations and simulates the features of platforms like LinkedIn, but is specific to a university and available through mobile access. It was thrilling to be in the environment of a technology services firm and gain exposure to processes and technologies like those of blockchain, mobile applications, and software. The summer funding allowed me to discover a sector I had never explored in a foreign setting. It piqued my interest in a future career in technology with a particular focus in Latin America.

Throughout the weeks as my co-workers and I sipped on mate and discussed national politics, the economy, and our goals for the week, I realized the potential that Latin America had as a business hub. For example, Argentina is heavily involved in the development of blockchain technologies. Unfortunately, due to unstable economies and governments, many companies limit their involvement in Latin America, causing services and technologies taken for granted in the U.S., such as Uber and Apple Products, to be limited or scarce. As countries in Latin America fight for justice, democracy, fair representation, improving economies, and the like, there is an opportunity that awaits to bring a world of technologies and services to life.

At the end of my internship with Lyncros, I was able to get over 15 new client acquisitions. With me, I take the memories of the hospitality of my host family in Buenos Aires, the beautiful sights of Iguazu, the sociability and passion of Argentinos, the involvement of citizens in politics, the beauty and dichotomy of La Boca, the ardor involved with following the Argentinian team during the FIFA World Cup, the delicious taste of steaks and empanadas, and the convenient access to reliable and cheap transportation. This was truly an unforgettable summer in the city of good air.



This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Fernado Bonilla, SEAS ’20

This summer, I spent 8 weeks as an intern at Ashoka, a leading NGO that works to empower social entrepreneurs. Being a part of Ashoka’s communications department in Mexico City was a fulfilling experience where I learned how to reach out to as many people as possible in support of the events and programs that make a difference in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

While working on social media networks, newsletters, and other media channels for Ashoka formed the bulk of my agenda, each intern also participates in evaluating applications for the CEMEX-Tec award, an international acknowledgment of excellence in innovative social entrepreneurship. I was given a set of applications to review and the process helped me realize the extent of the social impact that social entrepreneurship and organizations like Ashoka can have.

Ashoka participates in the CEMEX-Tec award to encourage social entrepreneurship across the world, and it generated enough interest to receive hundreds of applications featuring incredible social projects.  It was eye-opening and inspiring to read through the applications and recognize the level of commitment and passion that these community leaders were pouring into their projects.

These start-ups ranged from new ways to teach disadvantaged kids English and mathematics to a network of 3D printers operated by youths in jail that could make affordable prosthetics. In the applications it was apparent that there were many people equipped to handle the problems that our society faces, but it’s also easy to see that they could use resources and funding to further their impact. There’s interest in almost every field of issues, but great ideas need to convince capable agents like Ashoka to invest by presenting an organized and detailed plan on how the project will progress and how many people it can ultimately impact.

On the level of Ashoka Fellows, Ashoka’s flagship program that provides support to a select few social entrepreneurs, the aim is to cause a systemic change and eventually scale the project to a size and impact that enables a paradigm shift in how people think about an issue. Working at Ashoka has already given me a new set of tools with which to scrutinize social issues and has helped me recognize the special group of leaders that are taking these issues into their own hands.

I was able to meet with several of the Fellows, whose projects brimmed with creativity and ambition, and whose personalities inspired me to look for ways in which I could contribute and lead a more socially responsible lifestyle. The communications department created a series of videos featuring the fellows and their projects, including Carla Fernández, a designer who’s fashion house draws inspiration from traditional Mexican clothing and incorporates the disadvantaged indigenous artisan population in its design and revenue generating process.

Ashoka does all this great work as a non-profit, and the internship was an unpaid opportunity. Thanks to Career Services’ funding, I was able to take part of this memorable summer  and use it to build my professional experience. This summer helped me identify which skills I need to improve and develop in order to one day be better positioned to make a positive change in the world, in whatever form it might take.

CS Radio – Episode 74: “Interview Best Practices”

Tis the season for interviews! Indeed, here in Career Services, both Michael and Mylène have recently been on search committees as we do our own hiring. In this week’s episodes, we’ll talk about some of the best things you can do in an interview and what will really stand out if omit them! Enjoy!

Show Notes

10 Best Questions to Ask in an Interview (via The Cut)

Memorable Summer in Sydney

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Nicole Posadas, COL ’20

This summer I was fortunate to fly over to Sydney, Australia, to partake in an eight-week internship program coordinated by the University of Sydney. For eight weeks, I was a marketing and research intern for Smart Approved WaterMark, a company that focuses on certifying water efficient products and services in Australia. Although considered a non-profit organization, the company’s ultimate mission is to encourage people and communities to change their behavior with respect to water use and water efficiency in order to promote a more sustainable future.

I was drawn to an internship with Smart Approved WaterMark because I wanted to learn more about how water efficiency corresponds to greater corporate responsibility. My supervisor created the role of a marketing and research intern because he requesting assistance on enhancing the company’s social media performance as well as discovering new channels for funding and collaborations. One of my main goals as an intern was thus to increase Smart Approved WaterMark’s social media following and brand awareness by increasing its outreach on various platforms. Additionally, I was aiming to work as a consultant for the company to advise them on the best way to attract customers to buy current Smart Approved WaterMark products and to encourage new certification applications.

            My role as an intern was quite extensive. It included scheduling social media posts that would post automatically over a two-month period, establishing new social media promotions and campaigns, as well as joining pre-existing campaigns, writing newsletter entries that would be sent to nearly 3000 subscribers, and planning the successful application of a Smart Water Award. My duties also entailed organizing renewal reports, updating the company’s website, composing a detailed social media analysis and plan, creating two promotional videos, and organizing the company’s consumer and stakeholder contact lists. Additionally, I would sit in on meetings with a virtual reality programmer to add input for creating a virtual water-efficient home simulation model.

As a whole, my internship experience in Sydney was entirely invaluable and challenged me in ways I would not have imagined. While my internship aligned directly with my academic studies focused on environmental science and my interests in conservation and consumer awareness, it allowed me to explore a new intersection: that of sustainability and business. This rare opportunity not only introduced me to a new working culture, but also introduced me to a new way of understanding an industry and the process in which products are labeled and advertised for various functions. This international working experience has also introduced me to analyzing public perceptions of sustainability and the best way to tailor messages in order to promote more environmentally conscious actions.

I truly could not be more thankful for the Career Services’ Grant, which offered me the chance to intern abroad with financial comfort. This grant not only supplemented how I paid for transportation and groceries, but also provided me mental ease as I focused entirely on my internship in such an economically diverse city. I am certain that this summer I spent in Sydney will be a memory I will carry with me for the rest of life.