The insider's guide to the Jerome Fisher Program at the University of Pennsylvania

Lunch with an M&T Alumnus: Steve Polsky, M&T ’86

by Parth C., M&T Class of 2018

by Parth C., M&T Class of 2018

In college you can become entrapped in a cycle of schedules and classes, and sometimes it’s refreshing to step back and look to see what happens after four years. To help you in this endeavor are the M&T alumni – some of the most brilliant individuals of their time, who have gone through exactly what you are going through right now. Because of the diverse skillset and the two degrees that M&T provides, there are M&T alumni everywhere, in countless industries and professions. A few months back, I had the chance to meet one alumnus in particular, Steve Polsky, at an M&T Brown Bag Lunch (BBL).

M&T BBLs are informal lunches with M&T alumni that occur sporadically throughout the semester. They’re an opportunity to meet and talk with alumni in an informal setting and see what he or she is doing and ask any questions about their past work (and the free Cosi is always an added bonus!). Steve Polsky, a serial entrepreneur at heart, came for a BBL and talked to several M&Ts about the path that he took after he graduated. From creating and selling his own telecommunications start-up, to becoming the President and COO of Flixster, Steve told us about his challenging but equally rewarding career. All of us were entranced by stories about his original startup, to working at Flixster, and even more so when he talked about his latest venture, a finance start-up currently in stealth mode.

In the hour lunch we had, Steve had the chance to not only tell us about the various companies and projects he’s worked on in the past, but also his life as an M&T student in college. Dr. Hamilton, our M&T Director, stopped by as well, and we saw firsthand the student-mentor relationship that had fostered between them over time. Steve gave us a surprise at the end by telling us about his latest initiative (which is just a few weeks away from launch), and we got an exclusive look at his new start-up’s products and the direction it was headed in. Later that day, I also had the chance to sit-in and hear Steve give a lecture in the M&T-exclusive MGMT 237 class.

The best, and my personal favorite, part of the BBL was the in-depth conversations I had the chance to have. For example, our BBL wasn’t just a biography of Steve’s life (something that we could have just Googled), but rather an in-depth and personal dialogue about his struggles, aspirations, and successes. I learned a tremendous amount of the various industries Steve had worked in, as well as how to deal with business and life in general. The ineffable intricacies of certain entrepreneurial challenges were outlined to me, and I was able to see some of the hidden complexities of business through Steve’s eyes.

I left the BBL, and later the MGMT 237 lecture, seeing the correlation between what Steve had done, and what I was learning today. I saw the coveted intersection of business and technology, and how to use the perfect amalgamation of both skillsets to create a cool product or make a viable business – just like Steve did. Moreover, it was fascinating and refreshing to snatch a glimpse at what lies beyond our classes, clubs, internships, and that final graduation walk.

Parth, from Chantilly, Virginia, is a member of the M&T Class of 2018. He studies Computer Science within Penn Engineering and has yet to declare his concentration in the Wharton School.

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