Each year, the M&T Board organizes an alumni networking trip to New York City. Around fifty current students board a charter bus for the two-hour trek to the city. Once there, they get a chance to meet M&T alums living and working in NYC, gain insights and advice on career paths, and of course enjoy the delicious food catered by the Penn Club of New York.
Johnathan Chen (Class of 2019) shared his experience attending the event for the first time.
What prompted you to sign up for the NY Alumni event? What were you expecting?
It’s always exciting to talk to people who have recently left the “Penn Bubble.” The NY Alumni event was a refreshing opportunity to meet recent (and not-so-recent) graduates from our program. I was expecting the same small talk you usually find at networking events, but this was something different. That M&T connection made it easy to dive right into gaining some valuable insights. I made real connections with alums and learned a lot from them.
Tell us about some of the alumni you met. What insights did you gain from their experiences?
I re-connected with Jordan, whom I met at the M&T Summer Alumni event in NYC. He gave me some memorable advice: don’t chase marginal assets. He reminded me to refocus on my vision and goals – something that can easily get lost in the daily hustle of college life. This tidbit of sage wisdom was a much-needed reminder of why I’m at Penn in the first place.
I also had a great conversation with Jason Rudin. Jason was a Digital Media Design major who he told me he liked to draw in his free time. I really connected with him because I too have a creative passion as a photographer/filmmaker. But, since coming to Penn, I’ve not devoted too much time to it. He reminded me that our passions are what make us interesting; sacrificing something you love is like sacrificing a bit of yourself. It’s simply not worth it.
How do you see M&T alumni playing a part in your current career goals?
The advice Jason and Jordan gave me was valuable in and of itself, but particularly so since I know they studied in the same environment I’m in now. They know the balancing effort required, yet they still told me to pursue my passions and have a vision. Knowing they value and achieved that balance gives me the confidence I can do the same. It’s inspiring to see what they learned outside of the classroom and how they translated that to their careers and life.
Do you feel it was “worth the trip”?
Absolutely! I don’t care much for small talk but have come to expect it at these sort of events. However, I never once felt like I was in a boring conversation. It’s easy to forget our alums still have that “M&T-ness” they had while in the program: their ingenuity, ambition, and determination are still there.
What was it like traveling there with 50+ fellow M&Ts?
The bus ride was my favorite part of the trip. I met a lot of wonderful M&Ts who shared similar career aspirations but still had distinct personalities. The NY Alumni event felt like the perfect road trip: you get to bond with others without having to plan a single thing.
Anything else you’d like to add?
The sign-up list filled up in less than three minutes – and with good reason! I highly encourage anyone to sign up for next year. It was a great experience.
Johnathan Chen is from Shanghai, China and a member of the Class of 2019. He is an Electrical Engineer looking to concentrate in statistics or business analytics. His future plans are to find impactful projects in Silicon Valley or pursue a photo-filmmaking career in New York. His favorite thing about the M&T program is the community…and he pours his milk before his cereal.