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Student Story: The Wharton Experience

Prodigy Finance - December 08, 2015

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As a recent Wharton grad (class of 2015), Paulynn Yu is not just walking down the road to success, she’s running towards it. In 2014, she interned for Prodigy Finance at our operational home in Cape Town, South Africa. And, like every MBA out there, her story is unique.

Working in her native Malaysia, Paulynn reached the point where she knew professional growth would taper off within a matter of years. Her work with a finance and trading company in Kuala Lumpur was exciting, but it was very specific. Throughout her tenure, she was exposed to and became interested in project management and wanted to head in that direction.

Fortunately, Paulynn could reach out to her mentor, a colleague that had received a Harvard MBA. It opened doors she hadn’t expected and drove her to consider an MBA though it wasn’t something she’s always planned.

The road to Wharton

After making the decision to pursue an MBA, Paulynn threw herself into the process. With the understanding that she hadn’t attended a “pedigree” undergraduate university (and knowing that she wanted a top American MBA programme), she focused on the GMAT. After three months of preparation, she achieved a high score (in the 97th percentile) and submitted her applications.

Wharton was one of four schools that interested Paulynn and, as she reflects on her experiences there, it was absolutely the right fit. All of the schools were good, but Wharton’s quantitative focus allowed her to grow in new directions. When the call came in, Paulynn took it without hesitation, majoring in statistics and data analytics.

When selecting a summer internship, Paulynn balanced her core belief in assisting emerging markets with her interests in working with startups. Prodigy was an unforgettable experience. As Paulynn puts it, “MBAs have a lot of fancy models for working. But on the ground, there are realities to deal with and challenges that can’t be solved with theory alone.”

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Sitting in a café before heading off to her next meeting, Paulynn offers advice to future MBA applicants, “know what you want to get out of it. You need to be really clear. There are so many pressures when you’re on campus, and you need to carve your own path. Clarity is the only way to balance it.”

When prompted to offer advice to Malaysians studying abroad, Paulynn responds with a suggestion everyone can all take to heart. “It’s too easy to hang out with people from the same region or with similar backgrounds. But, you’ll miss out on so many opportunities if you do. When you’re studying for an MBA, it’s the time to take risks.”

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And now? 

Paulynn is working with Dispatchr, an early-stage startup in San Francisco that focuses on connecting workers in the field to real-time geospatial, meteorological and predictive analysis in the energy sector. 

It’s been a transition, but one that Wharton prepared her to face. Sure, she misses the comfort of her friends and family in Malaysia. The call to return and develop Asian emerging markets rings faintly in the back of her mind; it’s a passion she will pursue if and when the time is right.


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