Penn alumni less likely to stay in Philadelphia compared to peer schools


A report compared Penn to Stanford, University of California, Berkeley, New York University, Harvard and MIT




When Penn entrepreneurs graduate, many of them take their ideas with them.

The University Entrepreneurship Report — released by venture capital and angel investor database CB Insights — stated that Penn alumni are less likely to found companies based in Pennsylvania than other graduates of top universities are in their alma maters’ states.

The report compared Penn to Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, New York University, Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Career Services director Patricia Rose said that student entrepreneurs often decide where to live based on where the most opportunities for their field of work are. The technology industry in Philadelphia, for example, is less prominent than in other regions.

“We have a growing tech sector in Philadelphia … but today there are more opportunities in northern California in tech than anywhere else in the country and that sector is growing in New York,” Rose said.

Rose added that companies often choose to locate close to their investors.

Despite the tendency of Penn entrepreneurs to leave the region, a number of graduates work in Pennsylvania after Penn. According to preliminary numbers from the 2012 Undergraduate Career Survey, 512 graduates took jobs in New York, 290 in Pennsylvania and 117 in California.

“[The numbers for Pennsylvania] include a lot of students who are employed by the University [or] who are doing research here for a year,” Rose said. “There are a lot of students who stay around.”

College and Wharton senior Talia Goldberg said although Philadelphia is a good city for young professionals, there aren’t many opportunities for new business owners.

“I decided to leave Philadelphia simply because the best opportunities in venture capital and the careers I aspire to are in New York or San Francisco,” Goldberg said in an email. She will be working at Bessemer Venture Partners in San Francisco next year.

“The startup and entrepreneurial communities [in Philadelphia] are not as robust and the city doesn’t have the same appeal and energy as places like NYC,” she added.

Wharton and Engineering senior Varant Zanoyan had similar thoughts, saying, “If you’re looking at tech, you can’t help but look at Silicon Valley.”

Zanoyan decided to take an offer to work at Palantir, a data analytics company which is based in Silicon Valley but also has an office in New York.

“New York is up and coming and I think over the next five years, the tech scene in New York is going to grow,” Zanoyan said. He added that California is still the “headquarters of the world” for technology.

Rose said that there are numerous resources in place for students who would like to remain in Philadelphia after Penn, such as Campus Philly, which connects students with local employers.

“We’re one of the largest schools in this area, and we wish more of our graduates would stay, but our job in career services is to help students achieve their goals,” Rose said. “If their goal is to find a job in Atlanta or Chicago or San Francisco, that’s what we want to help them to do.”

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