University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)

Wall Street. The NYSE. Goldman Sachs. Finance. Investment banking, asset management, securities, hedge funds, acquisitions and mergers; corporate finance, prime brokerage and private equity. If these words make sense to you, if these words get you all worked up in a frenzy and foaming at the mouth, then Wharton is the place for you.

How to Demonstrate Your 'Fit' for

University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)

Wharton historically positioned its MBA brand with two simple words: “Wharton innovates”.  So when you think about how you position yourself to Wharton, be able to articulate how you’ve innovated in your personal and professional life: how you’ve moved things forward, come up with creative new ways to solve problems, and created new solutions, strategies, and business models.

In the spirit of innovation, Wharton offers students a strong array of entrepreneurial-focuses courses and programs.   It hosts an annual business plan competition where student teams compete for $100,000 in prize money, and after the competition, students are able to take advantage of the Venture Initiation Program (VIP) to make their plans a reality.  It also has its “Small Business Development Center” which offers students the opportunity to consult aspiring entrepreneurs in the Philadelphia area.  If you’re hoping to start a business, make that very clear in your Wharton application, as it’s a solid way to demonstrate fit with the Wharton brand.

Of course, when most people think Wharton they think finance.  It’s finance curriculum is often considered to be amongst the best in the world, and it routinely attracts an extremely competitive field of students with a passion for, and career goals focused upon, finance and investment banking.  But even if you’re not planning to focus your studies in finance, it’s important to articulate your analytical abilities to the ADCOM, as most of Wharton’s courses have a strong quantitative component.  So while it’s not a weakness if you come from a nontraditional background (and in fact Wharton has a reputation for welcoming non-traditional backgrounds) it’s still important to articulate the reasons why you can succeed in a challenging, quant-heavy classroom. 

Like most top programs, Wharton seeks to attract collaborative students who work well in team environments.  First year students complete most of their academic work in “learning teams”, and as Wharton seeks to attract diverse candidates from a wide array of international locations, it works hard to create an environment where students can learn from fellow students with unique, diverse, and often international experiences and perspectives.  You can expect to asked about your ability to excel in team-driven environments in your Wharton interview, and Wharton places a lot of emphasis on community experience – particularly experiences where you worked and excelled as part of a team.  So be sure to articulate your success working in teams, both and outside of work, in your Wharton application and in your interview.

Wharton is also a strong brand with regards to other academic areas.  Particularly, it’s well known for its Healthcare Management program.  If you’re seeking a career in the healthcare industry, be sure to look deeply into this program and to articulate how it can be of benefit to you.  Wharton loves healthcare candidates who can articulate how they want to advance the field of healthcare and who can show enthusiasm for their healthcare program.  It also has a well-respected Real Estate program, which would be wise to discuss if you have real estate aspirations.

Wharton’s view of leadership is rooted in its appreciation for innovation.  It seeks leaders who have demonstrated progress and created innovative solutions, a principle it describes as “Leadership in Action”.  Being able to articulate how you’ve showed leadership in action, and sought opportunities to bring notable innovation in the workplace, is sure to raise the eyebrows of Wharton’s selective ADCOM!

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