All the Lessons That I learned Outside of Class

As my two years at Wharton end, I reminisce about all the wonderful memories that I’ve made. I remember a night in Shanghai when a Wharton alum-treated a few Wharton admits for drinks and shared his Wharton experience from 20 years ago. It was before school even started. That conversation is one of my fondest Wharton memories.

Pre-term was intense. I loved Adam Grant’s Management 610 class. It was hard to stand out though with 20 other hands in the air competing for the participation grade. Adapting to an environment where almost everyone vied for attention and power was unnerving. I questioned if my scholarship and admission into Wharton a mistake was.

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Wharton is not the place to declare superiority. It is a place to humbly self-improve. I realized that it’s impossible to be the best at everything. I accepted my limitations. I prioritized things that truly mattered. Constantly competing with everyone for everything is futile, if not stupid. Accepting one’s mediocrity is courageous. Acknowledging the strengths of others and learning from them is more important than winning everything.

The recruiting process taught me a lot about myself. I remember the patience of my teammate David Cochrane when he explained investment management concepts to me. Another classmate Lin Ouyang spent hours showing me how to build three-statement models. There were many sleepless nights. I received endless rejection letters in my inbox. Whenever I felt discouraged, there was always someone cheering for me. It propelled me toward my goal regardless of the resistance that I encountered. The camaraderie formed during the recruiting process is unforgettable. It will be my most cherished Wharton memory.

Most importantly, I’ll never forget my Wharton classmates and professors who enlightened, challenged, helped, criticized, touched and encouraged me. I owe you equally.

About Karen Zhou, WG'19

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