An Intern In EdTech

By Kunal Nayyar WG’16, Dr. William Zucker Entrepreneurial Intern Fellow

I’m two weeks into my grand experiment for the summer: an internship at Zaption, a seed-funded education technology (edtech) startup that’s making video learning interactive. The goal of this experiment, like that of most internships, is to learn about a new type of work and figure out how I like it. The experiment isn’t particularly well-designed, in that so many variables have changed relative to my previous job—but so far it’s been illuminating and fun in a variety of ways.

This is what working at a startup looks like: Kunal Nayyar WG'16, at his standing desk at Zaption.
This is what working at a startup looks like: Kunal Nayyar WG’16 at Zaption.

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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.

Wharton MBAs Working at Startups in Record Numbers

By Michelle Hopping, Director, Employer Services, Wharton MBA Career Management

When Wharton MBAs look for an impactful summer internship, more and more students are finding opportunities in the startup space – including, but not exclusively limited to, consumer internet (OneFineStay, GoodReads), e-commerce/retail (AHAlife, Birchbox,, consumer goods (The Honest Company, Lot18), and enterprise software (Yammer, Addepar). It has been exciting to see the growth in the number of students choosing a startup for an internship – 61 students in the class of 2013 – a 45% increase from the previous summer.

In speaking with startups to share student interest and talk through how to fill hiring needs with Wharton MBAs, I’ve heard loud and clear that busy startup CEOs and product teams have long to-do lists and need great people.

So what’s in it for a startup to bring a Wharton MBA on board for 10-12 weeks in the summer? A fairly meaty project can be completed by someone with some new perspective, a demonstrated passion for your company and your space, and a drive to make an impact. Plus, it’s a bit like a 10-week interview.

One student interned at Palantir in the D.C. area this summer, modifying their technology to be useful for tax agencies. He created a proof of concept using Palantir as a tool to investigate tax evasion and transfer pricing fraud, and he eventually sold the technology to their first tax client, taking the team from an unexplored vertical to a successful sale in three months.

Some students have successfully stretched internships into longer term work, staying in touch with companies over the course of their second year of the MBA program, and sometimes transitioning part-time work into a full-time role upon graduation. One example is a Class of 2012 grad who interned at TaskRabbit over the summer of 2011, when the company was 25 employees, and spent his three months there working with senior management to create a detailed operational plan and financial model for a national rollout to eight new cities. He also created an online store, project-managed designers and engineers, and led online ad buying with measured results. After staying in touch throughout his second year of the MBA program, he started at TaskRabbit after graduation in Business Development.

MBAs interested in joining startups are scrappy and smart and can add value at early-stage as well as mid- to late-stage companies in areas of Business Development, Operations, Product, Marketing, Analytics or Finance.

In Operations & Business Development, students have accomplished projects in:

  • Improving lead generation process & reducing sales stage times
  • Analyzing/developing solutions to bottlenecks and inefficiencies in a work process
  • Creating a playbook for expansion into a new market/location

In Product Management or Marketing, students can work on:

  • Creating preliminary specs for a new product offering
  • Making recommendations for spinning off product categories into standalone marketplaces
  • Developing a competitive landscape on how email-targeting helps segment the user base
  • Effectively positioning yourself in relation to a new competitor

In Analytics or Finance, students can help by:

  • Leveraging customer analytics  data to reallocate budgets
  • Improving pricing strategy

Students source their internships in a variety of ways, such as the Wharton Entrepreneurship Startup Auction, job postings through MBA Career Management, alumni networking, career treks, and by pitching project ideas to recruiters at companies.

Michelle Hopping
is Director, Employer Services in Wharton’s MBA Career Management (MBACM) office and serves as point person for startups interested in recruiting Wharton MBAs. During her time at Wharton, she has grown Wharton MBACM’s startup and VC relationships and job opportunities for students. She recently facilitated the recruiting-related efforts for Wharton’s Semester in San Francisco pilot program this fall, including participation from Bay Area startups, VCs, and incubators.

Twitter: @michellehopping

Wharton MBAs Pursuing Entrepreneurial Careers

By Maria Halpern

Nirav Shroff (WG’12)

When we survey Wharton grads on their reasons for starting a business after b-school, the most common response is that they want to do something they are truly passionate about.  It’s been exciting to see so many Wharton MBAs following their passion these days – we’ve already heard from over 40 graduates from the Class of 2012 who are starting ventures across a variety of industries including Healthcare, Energy, Retail, Consumer Products, and Technology.  This represents about 5% of the graduating class (and to put that number into context… that means that more Wharton MBAs are becoming entrepreneurs than hedge fund managers).

Other trends we are seeing by way of entrepreneurial careers at Wharton include:



Miriam Raisner (WG’13)

1. Wharton MBAs working at startups– Not only are students starting their own businesses, but they are also aggressively pursuing full-time and internship roles at startups.  This year, over 60 Wharton MBAs are interning at startups (compared to 40 last year) and another 25 have accepted full-time positions at hot startups such as Etsy, Uber, Box, and inMobi.  Many students are opting to work at VC-backed startups and while the most popular industry is Technology/Consumer Internet,

several students have landed exciting startup roles in Cleantech, Healthcare, Retail, and Media.

Nirav Shroff (WG’12) accepted a Mobile Business Development position at Cloud Computing startup Box. Miriam Raisner (WG’13) is interning at ZocDoc this summer, with a focus on Content Marketing.


Omar Seyal (WG’11)

2. Incubator/accelerator programs – We’ve seen more Wharton graduates and students gain acceptance to prestigious incubator and accelerator programs such as TechStars, Y-Combinator, DreamIt, and GoodCompanyVentures. In the past two years alone, over a dozen Wharton businesses were accepted to these highly competitive programs, which not only provide seed funding, but also introductions to potential investors and access to influential alumni networks.  Many of the students accepted to these programs were also taking advantage of Wharton’s Venture Initiation Program, which provided a great launching pad for them to advance to this next step.

Omar Seyal (WG’11), is co-founder of a Y-Combinator-backed startup called tagstand, which raised $1.1MM in funding last year from notable angels including Yuri Milner, SV Angel, and Naval Ravikant.


Julie Lamba (WG’13)

3. Wharton alumni entrepreneurs hiring Wharton MBAs – Wharton alumni are playing a huge role in shaping the next wave of Wharton MBA entrepreneurs. Many alumni are hiring Wharton students to work for their companies upon graduation, over the summer, or during the school year.  This is a trend that we hope will continue as more students come into Wharton with entrepreneurial aspirations.

Julie Lamba (WG’13), is leveraging her pre-MBA background in Education as a summer intern at General Assembly, a global network of campuses for entrepreneurs co-founded by Jake Schwartz (WG’08).



Jonathan Lyons (WG’11)

Jonathan Lyons (WG’11), recently accepted a business development position at an early-stage startup called Gridium, an energy analytic services firm, which was launched last year by Tom Arnold (WG’05) and Adam Stein (WG’05).  Tom and Adam previously co-founded a company together called TerraPass.



















Maria Halpern is Director, Student Engagement and Career Advisor for students interested in Entrepreneurship 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 Entrepreneurial Programs to provide more resources for students interested in pursuing entrepreneurial career paths.  Maria graduated from Wharton’s undergraduate program with a dual concentration in Marketing and Management.

Twitter: @mariahalpern