M&T Inaugural San Francisco Immersive Week

One of the curricular requirements of M&Ts is MGMT 237 which is mandatory for all sophomore students. This course examines the technical and managerial challenges presented by emerging and evolving technologies. Throughout the semester, students explore both internal and external sources of innovation as well as the appropriate strategies and processes for capitalizing on them.  

Launched in Spring 2019, this course now culminates in a week long immersive trip to San Francisco. This trip is designed so that might students observe curricular concepts in real world application. This model of experiential learning incorporates panel discussions, simulations, workshops and company visits. In addition, students explore different career paths, foster their Bay area network, and connect with their cohort outside of the Penn campus.

Junior Amit Gupta spoke to each of these program goals, “The fact that so many stakeholders from the program as well as incredible speakers and panelists were able to be in the same place for an extended period of time is what made it a truly immersive experience…Penn does an excellent job bringing individual speakers to campus, but having panels where multiple leaders in the industries got to converse and discuss created a much more meaningful experience. [In addition,] I think being able to travel with the entire class was truly a unique experience. The ‘in-between’ time was actually one of the most memorable parts, whether it was chatting while walking between sessions, eating meals with different classmates, or the bonfire on the beach.”

Julie Chen (M&T ’21) also spoke with M&T Program Staff about the impact of the shared immersive experience with her entire class noting that “it actually has changed the way our class communicates. People on Locust Walk are more likely to say hi to their classmates or to spend time together in the M&T Office.”

Each day of the trip is structured around one of four unifying concepts – entrepreneurship, products, data science, and finance. Organized to appeal to students across majors and concentrations, speakers and panelists encouraged students to explore possibilities outside their chosen track and imagine creative futures in which the integration of management and technology was paramount. “[Often] panel after panel or visit after visit can become drudgery, but by focusing different days on specific industries, we got a really complete view of the management scene in SF, the technology scene in SF, and the intersection of those two.  From panels like the investment panel, we heard about all stages of investment (from Seed to Growth Equity to Distressed Investing). In a panel with such a breadth of experiences, you get a lot more context and nuance about how these industries and roles fit into the real world together,” writes Amit Gupta (M&T ’21).

Rising junior, Maher Abdel Samad (M&T ‘21) contributed the following reflections on his experience of this inaugural Immersive Week: 

“The M&T Immersive Trip challenged all standards of hands-on education. When I wrote my Penn application back in Beirut around Summer ‘16, I never thought there would be an experience that towers above the idealistic expectations I had of my time in the US. I never thought I’d be touring the Tesla factory with 55 of the most intelligent, driven, and innovative college students in the US and the world. I did not imagine meeting great industry leaders such as Michael Grimes, whose executed legendary deals I would read about in depth in the Financial Times, or asking insightful questions to Eric Friedman, the CTO of Fitbit, or Michael Seibel from YCombinator. 
 The M&T Immersive trip reignited in me a feeling of such childlike wonder about the world of technology. A feeling I only remember having way back in middle school when I first stumbled upon our small makeshift robotics team. I was reminded not only of the unseen power of the education I was receiving at Wharton and SEAS but more importantly the community I have joined by being in M&T.  
 After all, the main reason I transferred to M&T is the vibrant community of students that give the program’s name its worldwide gravitas. This Immersive trip allowed me to see an outstanding part of the M&T community beyond the 200 students currently in the program. I realized how deprived M&T students were from the greatness of these alumni, who we interact with much less than their peers in NYC. 
I was always proud to be a part of M&T, but after this trip I can’t shake the feeling that M&T has become an integral part of me.” 

As Maher mentions, the trip offers unique experiences to interact with alumni in the Bay Area. In our conversation, Julie mentioned that both she and other classmates were able to reach out to alums they met through the Immersive and connect with them about internship opportunities with their companies or to meet up on subsequent trips to San Francisco. “[This was] the perfect summer to start thinking about what you want to do full time,” says Julie, “[The trip] helped show us where we could find ourselves in the future.”

The M&T Office plans to continue offering this immersive experience for the upcoming academic year and is exploring the possibility of additional host cities in future. The success of this initiative is, in large part, thanks to the strength and engagement of M&T’s robust alumni network, to whom the Jerome Fisher Program is profoundly grateful.