Entrepreneurial Trends at Wharton from MBA Career Management

By Maria Halpern, Director, Student Engagement and Career Advisor; and Michelle Hopping, Director, Employer Services

Last year, we blogged about more students pursuing entrepreneurial careers at Wharton – more Wharton MBAs working at startups, more MBAs being accepted into top incubator/accelerator programs, and more Wharton alumni entrepreneurs hiring Wharton MBAs to join their teams.  These trends have all continued to rise – this year, there are more than 70 students interning at startups (up from 61 last year) and the number of students starting businesses upon graduation continues to grow.   

Wharton Graduates Starting Businesses

Here are a few new trends on how the career landscape is changing at Wharton with more opportunities for students to pursue an entrepreneurial path:

  1. Early Stage Startups – Every year, we survey the Entrepreneurship Club to understand what kind of startups students are most interested in.  We consistently hear that students want to plug in and make an impact at the earliest stage.  As such, we built a program this year with a Wharton alumnus at venture capital firm Crosslink Capital to connect Wharton MBAs with 13 companies in their seed fund.  40 students applied with at least 13 interviews conducted and two offers made.  Half of accepted startup internships this summer are at companies with fewer than 20 employees. For example, at Dashlane, a password management startup with about 35 employees in New York, a Wharton MBA will work on marketing initiatives. Tastemaker, a 10-person interior design platform in San Francisco, hired a student to work cross-functionally on product management, corporate finance, data analysis, and marketing.
  2. Diversity of Industries – This year we noticed that students were starting and joining startup companies across a broader range of industries.  We specifically see more students starting companies in the retail and financial technology space and joining early stage companies in the healthcare sector.Industries of Student VenturesIndustries of Startup Internships
  3. Startups getting organized – This year, we saw later-stage startups get more organized around MBA recruiting.  Spotify did their first ever on-campus company presentation at Wharton (hired a Wharton MBA intern), Box created a MBA-rotational program (hired two Wharton MBAs), and ZocDoc came to campus to recruit for Sales Operations roles (hired a Wharton MBA).  We are excited that later stage startups are seeing the value that the right kind of MBA can add to their teams – we also continue to educate earlier stage startups on how an MBA could fit. Earlier this year, we were invited by Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to present to 20-25 handpicked portfolio companies on the value of MBA recruiting and partnering with university relations. The most helpful data seemed to be the concrete examples of Wharton MBAs contributing to startups in Business Development, Product Management, Operations/Finance, and Marketing, and the aggregate stats around the entrepreneurial momentum at Wharton.



Maria HalpernMaria Halpern is Director, Student Engagement and Career Advisor for students interested in Entrepreneurship/Startups in Wharton’s MBA Career Management (MBACM) office.  During her time at Wharton, she has implemented new ways to track student satisfaction with MBACM services and worked closely with Wharton Entrepreneurship to provide more resources for students interested in pursuing entrepreneurial career paths.  Before coming to Wharton, Maria spent over seven years at American Express, most recently acting as Chief of Staff for the Head of Global Advertising and Brand Management. She also held marketing and business development positions in American Express’ Corporate Card and Merchant Services divisions where she was responsible for building and implementing go to market strategies for emerging business and industry segments. Maria graduated from Wharton’s undergraduate program with a dual concentration in Marketing and Management. Follow Maria on twitter @mariahalpern.   

Michelle HoppingMichelle Hopping is Director, Employer Services and point person for startups in Wharton’s MBA Career Management (MBACM) office.  Prior to her last 8 years at Wharton, Michelle worked in MBA Career Management at the Johnson School at Cornell University. She has also spent time at the CBS TV affiliate in Syracuse and at Fox 29 in Philadelphia in the newsroom. Michelle graduated from Syracuse University with a BA in Broadcast Journalism and Spanish Language & Literature. Follow Michelle on twitter @michellehopping.