I didn’t exactly arrive at Wharton expecting to dive into academic research, but when I read the description of the Mack Center MBA Research Fellowship, it sounded too interesting not to apply.
The fellowship supports students interested in analyzing (and eventually writing about) an industry or technology where innovation is changing the commercial landscape. As someone with a background at health-focused tech startups, my first thought was mobile health, an area characterized by rapid change and uncertainty. I teamed up with a classmate, Jake Samuelson, and over the next few months we essentially took something that “seemed really interesting” and got to know it really well, really quickly.
Approaching a general industry study can be a bit daunting, but the program provided us with multiple frameworks to help narrow our scope. It was also very helpful to have structure early on, primarily through weekly meetings with Professor Schoemaker and the other fellows. Professor Schoemaker is an incredibly valuable resource; he’s knowledgeable about a seemingly endless number of industries, and he knows just about every person you might want to speak to for your project (Jake and I definitely took advantage of this).
Looking back, this was one of the most practically valuable experiences I’ve had at Wharton. The fellowship allowed us to take some of the disciplines we study (strategy, operations, etc.) out of the abstract and see how their interactions can shape and predict the course of an evolving industry. I would highly recommend the fellowship to anyone interested in emerging technologies and the unique questions and issues that often surround them.