Interview with Anna Whiteman

What do you remember about the major?

I remember that it was a great major, I could honestly find any class that interested me and the likelihood fitting into the major was very high, which I appreciated. Lot of my friends at the time who were studying very strict disciplines.

I remember my capstone class as being very difficult and forcing me to really shape how I think. I took one class called Globalization and Corruption with Phillip Nichols and he would make us present on something that we didn't necessary agree with or had some sort of contrarian stance. We had to present the counterpoint to the class for a full 45 minutes. So that made you think in a new direction and was incredibly challenging but also rewarding. I tend to take a little bit more of a robust view of things before I determine an opinion about them in my work and life, in general.

I also remember going to Rome. I was a first of the three of us who went on this PPE in Rome program. It was its first year in existence, so I don't know if it's still going on but that was one of the coolest things that did at Penn.

I also just remember having a cool community of other PPE majors around me; cool events and speakers using the Goldstone Forum that were set up around the PPE major that were incredibly enlightening and fun to participate in.

How do you think that PPE played a role in your decision to pursue specific career opportunities? Did it shape the way you went about searching for jobs? Did it shape what kind of industry you wanted to go into?

So, I spent my first professional summer working at the Clinton Foundation. So, that was semi-informed by PPE. I think my interests in working for the Clinton Foundation were aligned with the same interests that propelled me to be a PPE major. After that, I went into banking and that was an attempt to enter a world full of Wharton kids that were going into the same job, I was kind of the contrarian force in there. So, it wasn't necessarily that PPE compelled me to do that, but I think I was able to bring a very different and cool kind of perspective to that internship which turned into a job, which turned into what I'm doing now. So, I would say that it's led me to have a different kind of perspective. It shapes how I look at things at work. So, I work in investing right now and when an investment comes to the table, I tend to look at it differently and ask different questions than somebody that studied finance. So, I think that's kind of how it's shaped me in a career way.

Yeah. Frankly I think that you go into banking and you learn everything that you would have learned at Wharton and so why waste the time in college, when you can just have an awesome major like PPE.

What do you wish you knew about life post-college as an undergrad? If you could go back and give your younger self any advice in terms of job search or managing college life in general, what do you think you would say?

That's a great question. I think frankly I would just say have as much fun and explore your interests as much as possible. I think PPE is a crucial part of that. I would probably tell myself as much as I'm exploring my interests, you should probably do more things that are applicable to actual jobs. So, I would say I'd probably do a little bit more of the practical things. More so, I’m really happy with my decision to pursue what interested me as opposed to trying to career track myself as an undergrad. You're in a very special place and time, and just recognize that and be grateful that you have the opportunity and make the most of it.

Is there anything that you'd like PPE to do more with alumni to sort of keep people connected with one another, or to stay up to date on what's going on on campus?

Yeah. I think one thing that PPE gets a bad rap for is that a lot of people end up going to law school so I'm obviously a kind of contrarian in that sense. I had no interest in studying law any further than the political science classes that PPE entailed. I think that PPE could do a better job of reaching out to its alumni, not necessarily just in finance or anywhere else, but in a diverse set of career paths so that people know all that’s available to them. I think that probably scared a lot of people off from being PPE majors.

I loved the Goldstone speaker series. I think they were really interesting and brought in some really creative, powerful minds, so to the extent that, if you can make alumni aware of those goings on would be really cool. It would be cool if there was a post-college like alumni advisory board. I was on the advisory board of PPE the last 2 years of school, so I would love to continue to be a voice to help shape the major going forward.

I’m actually from Philadelphia, from 20th and Locust, so if you ever do any events or anything that you think that I could potentially help you out with or contribute to, I'd be happy to, if it overlaps with my schedule at home.