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Over this past spring break, students from all schools at Penn attended a Wharton-organized trip to Hollywood, where they toured major production studios | Courtesy of Lee Kramer

This spring break, Wharton took students of all schools on a trip to Los Angeles to show them that business opportunities exist far outside the world of Wall Street banks.

The Wharton Industry Exploration Program, which sponsored the trip, offers undergraduates from all four of Penn’s schools the opportunity to travel to a city known for expertise in a specific industry and to learn from leading professionals about potential career paths in that industry.

The trip was packed with tours of major production studios including Sony Pictures, Lionsgate and Nickelodeon. Each day of the trip also included several speakers and paneled discussions at Paramount Studios from representatives in the music, movie and television industries.

Panels were moderated by Wharton professor David Bell and frequently described the career paths that the panelists took to find their places in the entertainment industry. Some of the speakers included Penn and Wharton alumni, most notably Ty Stiklorious. Stiklorious was friends with John Legend when they were both Penn students, and together they later founded a company called Friends at Work, which has signed up-and-coming artists including Meghan Trainor.

Students were also able to get experience performing tasks that would be expected of professionals in the entertainment industry. When they went to Lionsgate Studios, they were able to view a documentary produced and narrated by Katie Couric about gun violence in America. The film has not yet been released in theaters.

Students also participated in a competition at Lionsgate in which they were asked to complete a case study that required pitching twelve films for the viewers of ABC Family network. The winners of the competition got a boxed set of The Hunger Games films. Lionsgate will use some of the winning team’s suggestions.

One of the primary goals of the trip, noted Bell and Wharton Undergraduate Director of Student Life Lee Kramer, was to expose students, particularly Wharton students, to all the ways in which they can apply their business skills to the entertainment industry. Holly Li, a Wharton sophomore with a longstanding interest in the creative arts, was pleasantly surprised to learn that “there are so many different business positions that need to be filled ... strategic roles that require business students.”

College junior Blake Pittell, a Communication major and a former Daily Pennsylvanian reporter, felt encouraged to search for an internship in the creative industry following the trip. He, too, was inspired by the myriad opportunities in the industry. “It was cool for me to see Wharton guys, finance guys ... that now wanted to do entertainment,” he said.

The trip seemed to inspire many of its attendees to apply for internships in the creative industry. Kramer noted that since their return, he’s sent out several student resumes for various entertainment-related internships. A few students have already received internship and interview offers — even one at Nickelodeon, he added.

One of the potential impediments, especially for Wharton students, to pursuing an internship in the creative industry lies in the fact that very few creative companies can afford to pay their interns. This makes banking and more traditional business internships more attractive.

That, however, has not stopped the demand for Penn interns in Los Angeles, Li noted. Throughout the trip, many of the alumni with whom the attendees spoke with expressed enthusiasm for hiring Penn undergraduates.

Regardless of whether or not the students will choose to pursue an internship in the creative industry, Li felt that the trip inspired everyone.

“If the trip’s mission were to educate us [about] other possibilities and inspire a Wharton student to pursue a dream in music, art, and entertainment, then the trip definitely did its job,” she said.

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