You might know the from , or you you might know it from the the club organized in September. Or maybe you’ve read its spotlight articles on Penn alumni pursuing alternative career paths. Regardless, the Signal is taking a hammer to Penn’s pre–professional culture one project at a time. This student group was built to "encourage the exploration of unconventional career paths and creative passions at Penn."
In early 2017, Bill He (W '18), Laura Gao (W '18), and Will Yoo (W '18) went on a trip to San Francisco through the Wharton Industry Exploration Program, during which they had the chance to speak with Penn alumni who had taken unconventional career paths.
“I just feel like exposure to that, to their mindset at every single stage of their career, was good for us to know, and it was really inspiring and really gave us a bigger picture. And we tried to sort of bring that back to campus in the form of sort of interview articles,” said Bill, the co–director and co–web development leader of the Signal.
Launched later in 2017, the Signal aims to serve as the “signal in the noise” of Penn’s complex and confusing pre–professional environment. The club writes profiles on interesting figures who have taken unique career trajectories.
Kasra Koushan (E '18), Signal co–leader and projects team leader, described his experience interviewing Salman Khan, the founder of : “He had a lot of interesting perspectives on like entrepreneurship like…the risk of like creating your own thing.”
But the Signal’s work isn’t limited to interviews.
Airika Yee (C '20), Signal Business Development Leader, elaborated on the project: “Our purpose of doing it was to kind of take Penn’s seriousness…down a notch.”
The Signal also hosted and organized the Amazon case competition in September, urging the company to open its next headquarters in Philadelphia, which the Mayor Jim Kenney attended.
“We thought that was kind of in line with our mission. In this case it was about like getting people from different schools like to collaborate on different ideas on how like we can help bring like more tech more business more entrepreneurship to Philadelphia as a city,” Kasra said.
In addition to these endeavors, the Signal has some new ideas in the works.
“One thing we’re doing is trying to create projects that will appeal to a broader audience,” said Signal Projects Team Leader Olivia O’Dwyer (E '21).
The Signal team is working to develop a Penn course list that will synthesize information about classes offered, and allow students to upvote their favorite courses.
Olivia says that she “really appreciated that there was a group like this that was open to exploring alternate types of careers.”
The club hopes to expose Penn students to all of their options within an environment that can feel limited. “I feel like everyone knows about the problem of pre–professionalism…My friends who want to go into finance complain about it but no one ever does anything about it,” Airika explained. “We’re just like hoping that this will help people complain a little less and do a little more.”