Hailing from less than an hour outside of Philly, Jack Franklin has certainly made the most of his four years at Penn, rising to leadership positions in both the A Cappella Council and Counterparts A Cappella. For those wondering, the Penn a cappella scene is only a little bit like Pitch Perfect, and there are unfortunately no Riff–Offs. Aside from leading tours for Kite and Key, an experience he says is “always the highlight of my week,” Jack takes initiative within his school, leading in Wharton Cohorts and serving as the vice president of Wharton Alliance. Most characteristically, though, Jack makes sure to perfectly combine his creative and more academic passions, because what's life without a little music?
Name: Jack Franklin
Hometown: Paoli, Pa.
Major: Marketing and Finance
Extracurriculars: President of Penn Counterparts, A Cappella Council Chair, Vice President of Wharton Alliance, Wharton Cohort Leader, Kite and Key Society, member of the Wharton Junior–Senior Advisory Board
Which of your communities has been most impactful on your time here at Penn?
Counterparts A Cappella. I joined within the first weeks of my freshman year, and the group immediately became my primary family on campus. It's an amazing group of people and singers. We've gotten to have some amazing experiences together. Aside from doing what we love—making music together—we also get to travel together. We were in London last March, and in [Los Angeles] my freshman year. Recently, we've gotten to open for John Legend, we just did the Phillies national anthem for the playoffs, and we presented Magill's inauguration. I'm president this year, and it's been probably the most rewarding role I've ever had at Penn.
From there, I took over as chair of the A Cappella Council last April, so aside from Counterparts, I oversee 15 a cappella groups on campus. That has also been, once again, hugely rewarding. I think a lot of the community within the arts was sort of lost over COVID–19, because we weren't having the same level of interaction with each other [by] going to each other's shows or having social events. That's something I've really tried to bring back this year—just fostering that connection between groups. Obviously, [in] bringing back in–person performances, there was a huge amount of institutional knowledge loss. I was starting off as president for Counterparts last year but had never been in a spring show before. Super weird times. But I feel like now that we're at the other end of it, it's been really cool to see all of the groups forming those connections once again, and through my role helping make all that happen.
The really cool thing about the arts community at Penn is that there truly is something for everyone. Every group does have such a unique identity, so it's really cool to see all of those new groups interacting. It goes to show you the amazing diversity and talent that is within the Penn performing arts community—not just within a cappella, but within all the subcommittees of the Student Arts Council. It’s very rewarding for me to see all of that come together again after, during COVID–19, not being able to perform or see my friends perform. Seeing that comeback has been a huge part of my Penn experience and hugely rewarding for me.
How have you been able to foster a sense of community in your Wharton extracurriculars as well?
My involvements in Wharton are really all about community, the two main being Wharton Alliance and Cohorts. I basically serve as an Orientation Leader for new students, which has been super rewarding. I've done that since I was a first–year representative, as a freshman, and now I’m an executive director as a senior. Forming close connections with the younger class has been super rewarding. I remember how much I relied on my cohort leaders. I was a mess my first semester, so it feels really good to give back in that way. It's a hugely impactful program to, day one, step on campus and have a few upperclassmen who are really looking out for you. That always felt really special to me.
Wharton Alliance is Wharton’s LGBTQ+ affinity group that’s been growing immensely. We got a record number of applications this semester which is really cool. It's really become, I think, one of the largest queer spaces on campus, so it’s been super great for us to watch that grow too. I joined, once again, over COVID–19, when it was really hard to form those connections. But now I see all these new students joining, it's become such a valuable community for them.
We're putting on a queer formal which is really exciting. In my role as VP, we put on the case competition every year where we have over 100 students sign up across the world, and we focused on Indigenous and sustainability issues. We actually won Wharton's DEI award for it last year, which was really fun. So that's been a hugely impactful community for me, connecting with other queer students and bringing new students into that fold as well.
Especially within Wharton, I think everyone's so focused on what's coming next—what's the next internship. It can be an incredibly competitive environment sometimes, but I feel like finding people from similar backgrounds to really connect with on another level and forming those communities that really do permeate that culture is something that I've always tried to do.
How have you worked to combine your interest in both the arts and business?
I think it's funny because I went the traditional finance concentration route, but pairing it with marketing has been really fun. For me, I like to think I'm a creative person. I think pairing the quantitative and qualitative skills has always been something I've been super interested in. I've gotten to take classes with people who literally wrote the book on some of these modern marketing techniques, which is really interesting. Aside from that, taking fun music classes and theater classes has been interesting as well.
I’ve realized that my interests don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I am interested in business, but I also love the arts. I have served as manager and president of my a cappella group, which has a ton of administrative and finance work on the back end. I think it's been an interesting exercise in learning how to manage your friends, because it's weird, right? It's 17 of us, it's a small group. Sometimes there are disagreements or tough decisions that have to be made, so I think being in roles like that, as business manager and president, I've used some of the things I've learned in the classroom. It's been interesting to be able to fuse some of those passions in a lot of ways.
That's been one of my main takeaways: that I can combine a lot of what I've learned across campus. Ultimately, I’d actually love to see myself working maybe in a business role in the arts industry and the entertainment industry in general. My end dream would be, you know, working for Spotify or something like that, doing something cool where I get to work with artists and be creative. But, I am also interested in business and becoming a leader in that respect as well.
What’s next for you after Penn?
I've appreciated there's been more of an emphasis on non–traditional career paths within Penn and Wharton lately, and I think that's hugely important. I worked in banking this summer, and I personally didn't like it. I'm not going back. A lot of people probably think I'm crazy for that. I'm trying something new, going out West [and] working in tech, and I'm excited for that. I think it's going to be a new adventure.
It's not the classic Penn–to–New York pipeline, but I've been lucky to meet a lot of really interesting people. I think the best thing that Penn does in the classroom is bring in amazing speakers, so I've gotten to make a lot of connections with them, some of whom gave me this advice to take a leap of faith.
Last song you listened to? “What Once Was” by Her’s.
No–skip album? I've been really into the new album by Charlie Puth.
Which building at Penn are you and why? I would say Houston Hall, because the best part is deep inside—Houston Market, but you’ve got to dig a little bit.
There are two types of people at Penn … People who go to food trucks and people that don't.
And you are? I am definitely a food truck person. Don Memo's, Lyn’s, all that good stuff. You get to try to get some of the best food around, and it's cheap. People should experiment more with some of the food trucks, because they're really good.