A wine tasting in Rio de Janeiro, a gala at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, and a beachside lunch in Hawaii are just a few of the perks enjoyed by members of some of Penn’s many alumni clubs, which the Class of 2018 will be eligible to join upon graduation.
Penn, which has a famously strong alumni network, has over 120 alumni clubs across the globe, spanning 37 states and 52 countries. States and countries home to larger numbers of alumni boast additional regional clubs – Florida has seven alumni clubs and New York has five, while China and India each have four.
Bigger alumni clubs like the Penn Club of New York require application forms and membership dues, but smaller alumni clubs like those in Brazil and Hawaii are much less formal. President of the Penn Club of Hawaii and 1998 College graduate David Austin said that joining the Penn Club of Hawaii is as simple as sending an email to the club.
Austin said that the Hawaii club is more "informally organized," since it is much less likely to meet a fellow Penn alumnus on the streets of Hawaii than it is on the streets of New York. He added that the club currently has around 60 active members and hosts volunteer activities and annual lunches to help Penn alumni meet in a state where it’s not always easy to do so.
“It can be challenging if you are returning home or moving here because it is a relatively small community,” Austin said. “The club provides good opportunities to meet people and reconnect with your old classmates.”
2003 Wharton MBA graduate Annie Kim Podlubny heads the Penn Club of Brazil, a country with over 1,000 Penn alumni. The Penn Club of Brazil hosts social events with other Ivy League alumni clubs, such as wine tastings. The alumni club also organizes a resume book every year, compiling recent graduates’ CVs to pass around the alumni network.
Podlubny said that the Penn Club of Brazil does not keep official member numbers or have a strict application process and is “more for social networking”.
“We’re definitely here to help any recent grads or people looking for internships,” Podlubny said. “I would love more students and alums to get involved.”
Podlubny has also worked closely with the University administration to promote Penn’s brand within Brazil. Since Podlubny joined in 2006, the Penn Club of Brazil has collaborated with Knowledge@Wharton High School to promote business and finance curricula in Brazilian high schools. Podlubny has also worked with Penn Global to set up internships for Penn students at different companies in Brazil.
Some alumni clubs offer activities that blend Penn tradition with local custom. According to 2002 Wharton graduate and Penn Club of Hong Kong board member Judy So, Penn Club HK recently hosted a Chinese New Year-themed “birthday bash” for University founder Ben Franklin, whose birth date sometimes coincides with the lunar new year festival.
So said that Penn Club HK has hosted more than 20 events and connected with over 1,350 alumni since the club re-launched in April 2017.
“Penn Club HK strives to promote school pride and engagement by offering diverse activities,” So said in an email statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian.
Many of Penn’s alumni clubs are actively engaged with other Ivy League alumni clubs as well as clubs for Wharton graduates, who in many countries have their own organized alumni networks.
According to So, Penn Club HK hosts an annual Christmas party and a weekly “fitness bootcamp” with the Wharton Club of Hong Kong. Penn Club HK also organizes monthly hikes with the Hong Kong alumni clubs of Stanford, Cornell, and Columbia universities.