Sophomore Career Exploration

My name is Pat Cawiezell and I am the Graduate Assistant in Career Services working on the Wharton team.  I am making my first blog entry today so thought it would be appropriate to introduce myself to the regular readers of the blog as a new voice.

One aspect of my responsibilities in Career Services has been to accompany a group of Wharton Sophomores on business exploration trips along with a fellow graduate assistant from the office in Huntsman G95, Chase Palmer.  In the first semester Chase and I took a group to New York and visited the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and a separate group to Washington to visit the State Department.  One of the primary objectives of the trip is to expose students to careers outside the traditional Banking and Consulting paths that so many Wharton students choose and to showcase that there are in fact other options available.

At the end of January Chase and I took a small group of sophomores to the headquarters of Ashoka ( in Arlington, VA.  For nearly 30 years, Ashoka has been funding social entreprenuers all over the world that are making a real difference.  The hiring process for Ashoka is extensive, applicants will have six interviews before being hired, including one interview with one of the top three people in the organization.  In fact, walking through their offices Bill Drayton, the CEO and founder of Ashoka, was sitting in his office talking on the phone.  Being part of a small non-profit such as Ashoka can provide access to the organizational leadership that isn’t possible at the multi-national corporation level.

The following week (right before a big snowfall, we have had so much snow I don’t remember which big snowfall, I just remember that as the bus pulled up to 38th and Walnut flurries were just starting to fill the air), Chase and I led a larger group to New York for two company visits.  In the morning we went to PricewaterhouseCoopers to learn more about their consulting division.  It was a pretty traditional presentation, we met four Wharton alums that work for PwC, all in different stages in their career.  In the afternoon the group went to Bad Boy (unfortunately Puff Daddy was in Miami for the Super Bowl) and met with many different people from the Bad Boy empire.  The CFO is a Wharton alum, Derek Ferguson,, and gave some solid advice about entering into the entertainment industry.

The striking difference between a corporate job at PwC and the environment at Bad Boy was evident to me, and I hope evident to the sophomores that attended the event.  At Bad Boy, every person we met, from Derek Ferguson on down to the interns that were there for the spring semester, had some level of relationship with Sean Combs.  You could usually tell what that level was from those that called him Puffy and those that called him Mr. Combs, but there is no question that Mr. Combs is involved in every level of Bad Boy and that if you go to work for him, you will have access to him.

I am sure that my vantage point as a 28 year old graduate student is different than the 19 and 20 year old sophomores that were the target audience of the presentations but I hope that as you consider your career path, you think about the things that are important to you and both the benefits and drawbacks of each possible job.  At Penn, there are lots of companies competing for students to hire but I hope you take some time to think about the organizations that don’t have the resources to wine and dine but could be a perfect fit for your unique interests and talents.