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Alumni From University of Pennsylvania Share Their Best Moments in School

Posted on Oct 23, 2018
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University of Pennsylvania is one of the most coveted colleges for students, who wish to pursue higher studies in international schools. As one of the Ivy League schools, it is a dream college for many Indians who plan to study at top universities abroad. However there many grey areas about the Ivy League colleges. Are they all fancy and overhyped? Does an Indian student gain from studying at top schools? Does the money and time investment justify the study abroad program?

We talked to 3 alumni from University of Pennsylvania for an open-house session to our office for a candid and free exchange meet. To get a broad perspective on the study abroad experience, we chose speakers who had pursued different programs at University of Pennsylvania. We had Shamik Shah, who was an MBA from Wharton School of Business, Jennifer Jong who had completed her BA from UPenn. We also had Sneha Nagvekar, an LLM graduate from UPenn Law School. Their opinion covered the whole gamut of experiences one would go through in an overseas education. To understand more about the speakers, let’s understand their profile.

Shamik Shah is an MBA from the Wharton Business School. The Senior Analyst from Sheffield Asset Management has had to go through the rough and tumble as an Indian student in an international school. He grappled his way, often making mistakes, but eventually finding his balance.

Jennifer Jong completed her BA in Urban Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She later went on to do her Masters at the UPenn School of Design. Today she’s a Consultant with Mission Strategies. Since she had spent a lot of time in UPenn, pursuing various degrees, she was our ideal match for an alum who has seen it all.

Sneha Nagvekar: Sneha had studied at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Sneha was President for Students for Promotion of International Law & Member of Students Council of Government Law College. Currently she works as an Associate at AZB & Partners.

Key Takeaways from the University of Pennsylvania Alumni Interaction:

1. Make sure that you know what you want to do. (Sneha Nagvekar)

It is better to intern before you get into a program. If you decide to invest that kind of time and life, you need to invest your time and immerse yourself into the program before you apply. UPenn has a very large campus. You could almost say that half of Philadelphia is UPenn. Wherever you go, you will meet UPenn students, which is great because you are part of such a large community.

2. Be aware that if you come from a big city, you will not get the same energy and vibe as you see in a big city like New York. (Jennifer Jong)
The State of Pennsylvania is not like a metro like New York or Los Angeles. It is important to keep your expectations real. Outside the campus, there may not be much to do. However life in the campus is very lively. You wouldn’t want to go outside.

3. Be a part of all experiential training: (Shamik)
The best part of my education was a leadership summit to South America. This involved a 6-day hiking trip in Chile. Learning to sustain on your own, in a foreign land, without knowing the local language or habits, teaches you a lot in how to blend into any environment. In those 7 days, I picked up essential leadership elements. Every day part of the group we had to make important decisions. This was later compiled as a video. What emerged at the end of the whole experience was truly unreal.

4. Enjoy the experience of living with American community

(Shamik)
85% live around the center city. The experience is amazing. 1600 students occupy almost 80% of the state premises.

(Jennifer)
Inside the campus, we stayed in the quad the dorm. In freshman year. Later, I moved to high rises. It was a great way to make friends and experience the American life. The school campus is inbuilt to the city.

5. Leverage the learning, however different from what you have been exposed to at home.
(Shamik)
We learned to negotiate all the way We had to choose our courses with a bidding system. You get a certain number of points. Popular classes have only certain number of seats. You have to bid for the classes. You have to pick what you really want. There is a negotiation class with Adam Grant. This involved lots of practice, with lots of examples on how to use the learnings.

(Sneha)
I’ve studied in Mumbai. However, I still feel that there is a huge gap in terms of exposure. The cross-connect offered between other schools, and the curriculum is challenging. If you have a class of 100, you are graded on the curve. The top 10% establish the curve. And the rest of the class is graded on the basis of the top 10. Not just do you realize how you have performed, you also understand how the class has performed. If an exam is difficult or easy, it is equalized for all students. These techniques make you up your game.

There is no shortcut to success. (All)
There are no quick fixes, no formula or no strategy for success. Whether you hold a degree from a top school or belong to an ordinary college in the city, it will finally funnel down to how much effort and hard work you put to get to your dream career. A degree from a top school will aid you and give you a leg up for the next transition, but nothing happens without hard work.

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