Chandler McCleskey, W’24, reflects on being a teaching assistant for WH2010, the business communication course for Wharton undergraduates.

Why did you become a WH 2010 TA?

As a child, I competed in numerous public speaking competitions and enjoyed delivering speeches from a young age. In high school, I was given the opportunity to work in my school’s speaking and writing center, where I would help my classmates with various assignments ranging from written work to verbal presentations. My work in the “Raider Writing Center” was one of the highlights of my high-school career, and I knew that I wanted to continue helping others along their respective communication journeys when I made it to Penn. Taking WH 2010: Business Communication for Impact was a wonderful experience, and when I was offered the position of TA for the class, I knew that it would allow me to help others become better business communicators while also allowing me to improve my own written communication skills and ability to deliver speeches.

What aspects of the class and being a TA have you found most beneficial?

As a TA, it has been both rewarding and insightful to see the same classes taught in different ways by the various lecturers that I have had the opportunity to work with. Each lecturer provides their own “spin” on the classes, including personal anecdotes and industry insights from their respective fields. From a lesson perspective, some of my favorite classes would have to be classes 7 and 8 that I teach myself. These classes review a crucial aspect of the business-communication curriculum, how to improve Verbal, Vocal, and Visual presentation skills, as well as allow me to put my own “spin” on the course while incorporating my personal stories and advice into the class. Furthermore, having the opportunity to teach a class myself has allowed me to grow as a presenter and educator and has inspired me to pursue the possibility of teaching later in my career.

What did you learn personally, professionally, or academically?

Chandler with the Wharton Undergraduate Communication Program team. (Image: Sara Hoover)

Professionally, WH 2010 helped me make many pivotal decisions in my life so far. For example, through taking and working as a TA for WH 2010, I knew that I would want to be in a job where I delivered presentations and where verbally communicating ideas to others was commonplace. As a result, my work as a WH 2010 TA helped me decide on which internships to take and which career to ultimately pursue.

Academically, WH 2010 has encouraged me to participate in classes and make the most of my four years at Penn. Whether this participation materializes in me being cognizant of my use of filler words when I ask a question in an accounting class or me volunteering to deliver an optional presentation in an OIDD class in order to practice my delivery and verbal communication skills, WH 2010 has provided both the skillset and confidence one requires to fully participate in the Wharton and Penn curricula.

Personally, WH 2010 has reaffirmed my passion for public speaking and allowed me to give back to a community that has truly shaped my Penn experience, and life, for the better.

Has being a TA helped you understand concepts in a different way than as a student taking the class?

Through being a TA for WH 2010, I have been able to learn from and work with the course material for over five semesters. This repeated exposure has allowed me to not only better understand the curriculum, but also apply what I learn and what we teach in the classroom to my everyday life. Moreover, having the opportunity to teach the class itself during certain weeks has allowed me to further solidify my understanding of the course. Over time, I think applying the course concepts, such as concision, organizational structure, or visual clarity on slides, to my classes or internships has gotten easier and has allowed me to see just how integral business communication is to my current work and how important it will be for my future career.

What’s been most surprising about your TA experience?

Chandler at a TA event at Penn’s Pottruck rock-climbing wall. (Image: Sara Mangat)

The most surprising or unexpected part of being a WH 2010 TA would have to be how rewarding it has been to serve as a mentor to the students. Throughout the course, students reach out for 1:1 advice on the class as well as ask questions about jobs, clubs, and navigating the Penn experience. At Penn, there is a very large “pay it forward” mentality whereby seniors and juniors help first and second years, who in turn go on to help the next generation of Penn students. When I was a first year, I had many junior and senior friends who offered me advice, and WH 2010 has been a wonderful place to give back to the Penn community by providing guidance to students who reach out to ask questions about both courses and life in general.

— Sara Hoover

Posted: April 24, 2024

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