Wharton Winter Welcome Weekend Part III: The Clubs and Social Scene
One of the most important aspects we learned about that weekend (aside from the academic offerings, of course) was the social scene and student life. Wharton did a great job of making sure all of us got to know each other by arranging lunches, morning coffees, afternoon drinks… By Sunday my head was spinning with names, hometowns, and faces (or maybe that was the hangover?). f
On Saturday afternoon they gave us the opportunity to hang out with some of the clubs that we might be interested in joining. When I was first admitted, I was contacted by the President of the Wharton Africa Students Association (WASA); now, with a name like Mary Patton, I assumed they knew I wasn’t African, but I guess living in Rwanda for two years meant I would be interested. And I absolutely was! I went to their club party that Saturday afternoon and when I heard P Square’s “Alingo” playing before I even walked in the door, I thought, “Yup, this is definitely a group I can hang with”. Of course, you don’t have to have lived in or be from Africa to join; students interested in working on the continent post-graduation or even traveling there at some point were members. I met people from South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria… It made me really excited to get involved in the fall. And it made me miss Rwanda a lot!
Along with a group of other incoming female students, I was invited to attend the Wharton Women in Business (WWIB) dinner on Saturday night. Held at an amazing restaurant in downtown Philly called Estia, it was pretty formal and elegant (and a strong contrast to the loud and raucous WASA party I had just come from). The keynote speaker was Stacey Rauch, a Senior Partner at McKinsey and 1981 Wharton graduate, who spoke about working in the high-powered corporate world as a woman and how to achieve work-life balance with a family. With last fall’s New York Times’ article on gender equity at Harvard Business School and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In”, women in the workplace has recently become a hot topic. Stacey mentioned a recent comment from her mentee, an entry-level female consultant at McKinsey: “My male coworkers are constantly going out with their direct bosses for drinks and getting a lot of great mentorship and advice from them; as a female, asking my older male boss to grab a beer is seen as inappropriate, so I’m limited to coffees or lunches. Thanks to this gender bias, I miss out on this ‘boys club’ bonding experience!” Stacey said that many of her managerial-level male colleagues now refuse to get drinks with any subordinates, agreeing to meet only over coffee or lunch, to level the playing field. How cool to see this subtle but incredibly important shift taking place!
We had other informal gatherings as well: cocktails in Huntsman Hall on Friday evening, lunches both days in our Homerooms, small group dinners out in Philly on Friday night… Culminating in a “soirée” Saturday evening at the Ritz Carlton downtown. Quite the fancy affair, it was fun to mix up our pre-arranged Homeroom groups. I continued meeting interesting people one after the other, which came as a huge sigh of relief after worrying that I may not click with my classmates or they’d be stuckup/boring/anything negative (don’t worry, this was a very common concern, the voicing of which directly correlated to drinks consumed at the soirée that Saturday evening). All in all, the Weekend completely made Wharton for me; being able to finally envision where I would be and who I would be hanging out with was such a relief after a year of studying, applying, and interviewing. Now, if I can just brush up on my finance/VC/private equity terminology, I should be all ready for the fall…