Having graduated from Penn in 2008 with not one but two undergrad degrees (thank you Hunstman Program!), I have had the honor and privilege of double-dipping in Wharton for my MBA. Having worn both hats, I have come to the surprising conclusion that Wharton undergrads and Wharton MBAs are a deceptively similar breed.
Free food draws Wharton undergrads to an EIS like a moth to flame, while Wharton MBAs give an arm and leg for access to a party with open bar. Undergrads must choose between Cancun and Puerto Rico for spring break travel plans, and the champagne problems are no less for MBAs who must decide whether to travel to Paris or Dubai over the weekend. Wharton undergrads begin their weekend when classes end on Thursday, while Wharton MBAs begin their weekend irrespective of their course schedule.
Jokes apart, when I arrived in Philadelphia two years ago, I had expected my double-dipping experience to be déjà vu all over again. In the TV series Seinfeld, Timmy puts it very bluntly to George that double-dipping is “like putting your whole mouth right in the dip… from now on when you take a chip, just take one dip and end it.” As I look back on my incredible MBA experience, I am glad that I did not “just take one dip [in Wharton] and end it.”
In fact, coming back to Wharton, catalyzed a critical assessment of my undergrad experience. Without a doubt, my undergrad years in Wharton are among the best years of my life. Yet, I must admit that I simply went through the motions and let life happen to me. My decision-making in the various domains of my life — academic, extra-curricular, social and professional — was influenced by popular opinion rather than personal goals.
Coming back for an MBA presented an opportunity to steer clear of such pitfalls. Continuing the Seinfeld analogy, my most important lesson from my MBA experience is best summarized by George’s tongue-in-cheek response to Timmy. George says, “I don’t dip that way. You dip the way you want to dip, and I’ll dip the way I want to dip.”
In my opinion, this is invaluable advice for my fellow graduates. We have all come from different walks of life and are going to embark upon equally unique paths after graduation. In choosing these future paths, we must actively make decisions based on our priorities and values.
Rather than sleepwalk through life without purpose and make passive choices based on the opinion of others, we need to be proactive about unabashedly pursuing our own dreams.
We each have hopes for a brighter future and despite differing views of what this may look like, we can all agree that the Wharton MBA has brought us one step closer to achieving our goals. A supportive community of administrators, professors and peers has pushed us to discover and challenge our abilities, interests, and even our identities. We now have all the necessary tools to make a new beginning. What remains to be done is to use them.
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