After reciting my terribly-canned “Andrew… New York… PE…” 30-second intro some five-hundred-odd times it’s easy to look back and see that many early interactions were just a slightly more professional version of the awkward middle school dance: everyone is nervous, there are only a few quick words exchanged, there’s a minimum distance apart, very little eye contact, and nobody remembers anything.
We’ve come a long way in a month.
Pre-term accomplished many things (air conditioning Houston Hall was not one of them) but if nothing else it provided an introduction to Wharton’s most important asset: the people.
The collective brainpower, unique backgrounds, and experiences everyone brought with them to Philadelphia are equally awe-inspiring as humbling. It’s easy to feel like you don’t belong when you hear stories from entrepreneurs changing the way a third-world country communicates, or from international karate champions, or fighter pilots, special forces, marines, and rangers.
At some point along the way, though, we stopped being held captive by our backgrounds.
Maybe it was when we were melting on Franklin Field during the Cluster Olympics, or maybe it was when we met our learning team and moved toxic waste on a public golf course in Delaware. Maybe it was over a lukewarm pint with our feet stuck to the floor at Drinkers or at a rooftop overlooking the skyline. Maybe it was laughing – or crying – over 60-second lectures, or walking back to center city across the walnut bridge.
Whatever it was, over the last month Wharton has knocked-down any self-imposed barriers, allowing us an opportunity to come together as one.
Somewhat a novelty at the time, the team-based-interview was a pleasant surprise from the standard (if not ineffective) one-on-one interview. More than anything, though, it foreshadowed the communal culture embedded deep within the school’s core.
What happened to the super competitive, aggressive and cutthroat environment Wharton is “known” for?
Everything is collaborative; everything is shared.
Sure, during the Olympics we were one cluster, during The Big Idea we were one cohort, but if nothing else, in the last month it’s become clear that we are one Wharton.