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

Lemons, Leadership, and Life Lessons in Management 100

Sabrina, second from left, doing the Lemon Challenge with her team and Dr. Fajgenbaum

All first-year Wharton students at Penn are required to take Management 100 (MGMT 100), an experiential course pairing students with a real-world business. Students work in teams of ten to identify a project addressing the business’ needs, create an action plan, execute the project, and analyze their performance. First-year Sabrina Song shares her MGMT 100 experience.

Coming into Wharton, the idea of working with people I’ve never met and completing a project with a real-world organization – in one semester – frightened me at first. On day one, I prepared myself for a demanding, confusing and intimidating class.

Sabrina, second from left, doing the Lemon Challenge with her team and Dr. Fajgenbaum

Sabrina, second from left, doing the Lemon Challenge with her team and Dr. Fajgenbaum

And, at first, it was a bit confusing. We felt like we were finding our way in the dark! But the course is designed to teach us how to work as a team. Through surveys analyzing our leadership and communication skills, team-building exercises, and open minds, we soon became a highly productive and cohesive team, striving toward a common goal.

One aspect that helped bond our team was the concept “feedforward.” With feedforward, team members offer constructive advice in a way that will help with their future development, in contrast with “feedback” which means to look back to the past mistakes. My team spent three recitations giving feedforwards to every other teammate. Through this process, I understood what a team should look like: everyone held mutually accountable for the team’s performance, and everyone’s contributions deeply appreciated.

My team, 100% Warriors, worked with Dr. David Fajgenbaum of the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network (CDCN). Our objective was to raise awareness of a rare disease called Castleman Disease through a viral marketing campaign. This project required considerable creativity. With zero budget, our team had to design a campaign that would captivate people and embody CDCN’s cause.

We rose to the challenge. We designed a “CDCN Lemon Challenge,” where each participant bites a lemon wedge and smiles, showing support for patients who are going through hardships every day but are still holding strong and smiling. Through diligent and resourceful outreach, we were able to involve over 200 faculty and students inside and outside of the Penn community, including President Amy Gutmann, Dean Garrett, and Dean Jameson. How far we had come from feeling lost on day one.

 MGMT 100 was an unparalleled learning experience that taught me the importance of utilizing the resources around me to achieve my goals. I feel it helped me become a better communicator, creative thinker, and problem solver. One example is how my team got those “big names” at Penn to promote the challenge. We took a chance and wrote cold emails to President Gutmann and all the undergraduate Deans, asking them to participate. We weren’t expecting to hear back from any. To our surprise, we heard back from Wharton Dean Garrett and President Amy Gutmann, saying they would do the challenge and post it on Facebook. Penn’s official Facebook account also shared our campaign, bringing the challenge to thousands. That one chance paid off big!

Coming into MGMT 100, I never expected I would enjoy the class this much. It was nothing like I expected! Through it, I learned valuable lessons on teamwork, leadership, and life. Many thanks to my team, our collaborators, and everyone who believed in us to make our project a success. I look forward to putting what I learned into action again and again.

Xiaoya (Sabrina) Song is a Bioengineering major in the Class of 2020. She is interested in healthcare and biotech and loves the amazing opportunities the M&T Program offers to meet and learn from so many remarkable people. 

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