Offered the opportunity to attend a typically upperclassmen-exclusive event, I was extremely excited for the M&T NYC Student-Alumni Reception. What Penn student wouldn’t be excited for an evening in New York consisting of interesting people, good friends, and non-dining hall food? Amidst the amazing environment of the Penn Club of New York and immaculate setting of the reception, stories were exchanged and relationships were initiated. Even though I left for New York looking forward to a fun evening, I returned to Philadelphia with an experience that had impacted my outlook on the future.
Conversing with M&T alumni was undoubtedly the highlight of my evening. They were more than willing to offer advice in hindsight and discuss their careers. I was given lists of classes to take, professors to meet, and clubs to join. Furthermore, many described the requirements of their jobs and explained how the concepts they learned as M&T students are still pertinent to their work. I was fascinated by the various companies for which the alumni worked and by the positions they held. Just as I had expected, M&T alumni are leaders in whatever position they occupy. However, contrary to my expectations, the alumni were as interested in my college life as I was in their careers. For the duration of the reception, the alumni were once again Penn students. My favorite conversations were those in which alumni compared their college career to mine. I enjoyed hearing how much has changed: buildings have been constructed, classes have been modified, professors have been replaced. Despite all these changes, some things remain constant. Although separated by time, M&T alumni and students share one important trait: pride. Each person could not be more proud to be a part of the M&T community. This overwhelming sense of pride has had a tremendous effect on me. I have never been more honored to call myself a student in the Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology. Thus, the alumni event was far more impactful than I ever could have anticipated. Instead of simply experiencing enjoyment, I experienced fulfillment.
The New York City Student-Alumni Reception introduced me to Penn alumni currently working or living in New York. As a junior, this year is extremely important for me to begin thinking about what career choices I need to make for the future. The reception gave me the opportunity to meet with a diverse group of alumni from a variety of industries and ask questions about the day to day tasks in their jobs.
I was able to connect with alumni that recently joined the workforce and ask for advice about how to apply to certain positions and how their career progressions have taken place. Alumni of all years were present so I had the chance to talk to managers, vice presidents, analysts, and even CEOs.
The alumni helped me understand what career paths and academic paths are open for me after graduation and helped me focus on what I need to concentrate in. From finance to consulting, coding to startups, I was able to realize the pros and cons of each industry and how each industry fits with my personality. Overall, the event was a great success and I highly recommend all M&Ts, no matter which year, to go meet the alumni, learn from them, and hopefully establish relationships that can last for years.
Michael is a current M&T junior in the Class of 2015 from Mount Laurel, New Jersey. He studies Computer Science within Penn Engineering and concentrates in Finance and Accounting in the Wharton School.