Drew Schulz, WG’17, was used to moving around. The son of a UPS pilot, he grew up everywhere from Kentucky to Alaska, settling at the University of Nebraska for undergrad to be near family. After graduating, he made a smooth transition to the itinerant life as a consultant. “I was traveling so much as a consultant that I was actually homeless for a year – I didn’t even need an apartment,” he said.
Then he settled in Philadelphia with VS Associates, and made himself at home.
“I fell in love with Philly,” he said. “A few of my best friends from childhood and high school came to Penn. I ended up reconnecting with them and living with them as roommates, and that’s how I met my girlfriend, who I live with now. She’s from South Jersey and went to Penn undergrad.”
When Drew joined a private equity firm and began getting ready for business school, he applied to five schools, and was accepted to four.
“If I was just choosing among schools, Wharton would have been the clear choice,” he said. “But I was actually weighing my decision against a job offer. I had a job offer from a growth equity fund that asked to bring me on as their first associate hire as they closed a round of funding. I would have been able to build something from the ground up, have an impactful role.”
It would also mean turning down Wharton and delaying business school for at least three years. And from the time he was admitted until he attended Wharton Welcome Weekend, he was planning to take the job – an excellent opportunity, still in Philadelphia, the city where he was building his life. Welcome Weekend changed that.
“I had a epiphany,” Drew said. “Yes, this job was an awesome opportunity, but I started hearing about the opportunities that students were pursuing here and afterwards. I realized that comparing one sure thing to hundreds and hundreds of potential opportunities was silly.”
He chose Wharton, and he’s been surprised by how his life has opened up.
“I thought I was busy before – working hard, playing hard, balancing everything,” Drew said. “But I wasn’t busy compared to now. I’ve found myself more engaged, excited, pursuing more opportunities than I ever thought I would be. It’s a different level.”
The one-time wanderer is now a resource to his classmates who are new to the city. “I’m not a Philadelphia guy, but I know the city well enough to be an asset to my peers,” he said. “I know how to take advantage of Philly, and a lot of my peers are going through the process not only of starting business school but getting to know a new city. That requires time and effort, and I’ve gotten to know new cities often enough that I can help others.”
Drew takes the subway to Wharton from his apartment in Old City and finds his commute even shorter than classmates who live closer. “I think there were 12 of us in my class who were living in Philadelphia before school,” he said. “What I really enjoy showing people is what’s outside Rittenhouse – Cuba Libre or Amada or Franklin Fountain. I should show you my text messages – what’s a good brunch place to take my parents? What’s a good BYOB to take a girl I’m seeing? Philly has a ton to offer, and not just Rittenhouse. I live on Church Street by Christ Church on an old, old street and I would not live anywhere else.”
He’s thrown himself into coursework, especially with Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative, and is active on the Wharton Welcome Committee himself. “It has been an amazing, serendipitous path – I couldn’t have designed a better way to spend a couple years of my life.”
Posted: March 14, 2016