Alumni Story: McLean Cozine

In addition to our University Spotlight and City Manager series, we're excited to announce a new series: Alumni Stories. In these features, you'll hear from the students that the Sage Corps team works every day to serve: our Fellows! 

The best way to learn about the Sage Corps experience is to hear from those that have lived it and experienced it. 

Kicking off our Alumni Spotlight series is McLean Cozine, who completed our fellowship program in the summer of 2017 in Hong Kong. He is currently a student at Amherst College. 

The below post was written by McLean after he returned to the States after his fellowship. 

Check out what he had to say about his summer as a Sage Corps fellow.

My name is McLean Cozine and I’m currently a sophomore at Amherst College. I plan to graduate in 2020 with a dual degree in Philosophy and Computer Science. I spent this past summer as a Sage Corps Hong Kong Fellow.

It is truly impossible for me to put my Sage Corps experience into words, but if I had to sum it up I would describe it as the best summer of my life.

It all starts with the place I was: Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a crazy city. It is hot, humid, bustling, and more crowded than anywhere else I’ve ever been. High rises and apartment buildings are packed into every block, blending together and backing up into lush mountainsides. Double decker buses and fearless red taxis careen down narrow streets, rarely making way for pedestrians. The aroma of food wafts out of food stands and air conditioning blasts passersby whenever doors are opened. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, don’t worry, it doesn’t sound appealing to me either. And yet, I loved it.

McLean and the Hong Kong cohort bonding over birthday cake!

McLean and the Hong Kong cohort bonding over birthday cake!

Hong Kong is packed with the energy that is found in the world’s great cities. It makes you want to get out, look around, and explore. And explore we did. Nearly every night after work I would meet up with members of my cohort, often my roommate Eric, and wander the city. Sometimes we would just get dinner and then return to our hotel, other nights we would stay out after midnight shopping, dining, watching horse races, or just walking around. Never before have I had the opportunity to explore a place so thoroughly, and the experience was incredible.

Making everything more incredible was the food. In Hong Kong you can find Michelin-starred dim sum for less than $10 a person, street food stands with the best dumplings you’ve ever had, and just about every cuisine you can imagine. Every little side street and back alley seemed to have at least one good place to eat, and many had more than that. You could spend your entire life eating out in Hong Kong and never get to all of the great restaurants the city has.

Hong Kong also has a fantastic array of hikes and beaches. There are little forest loops and arduous climbs straight up mountainsides; Some have city views, forest views, or ocean views, and many hikes offer all three. There are beaches that range from see-and-be-seen beaches to hidden coves on outlying islands. Some are even at the end of great hikes. Many of these beaches and hikes are accessible by bus and subway, and some are only 20 minutes from the middle of the city. Others require hiring a local with a motorboat to take you to just the right spot. However adventurous you want to be, they’re all worth it.

Even if it had only given me the opportunity to explore Hong Kong for two months, I would have said that my Sage Corps experience was worth it. But, it gave me so much more. Namely, it gave me the best internship I could ever imagine having. I interned at a company called IvySpace, an online education platform that connects students who plan to study in the US or UK with top-quality tutors for one-on-one online lessons and tutoring. At IvySpace, I worked alongside fantastic coworkers and was given tasks with real responsibility that led to real results.

During my time at IvySpace, I did a huge number of things. I worked on multimedia content for the application the team was developing and has now released. I conducted beta testing of the app, helped with internal operations, and was involved in strategic conversations around the future of the company and its services. Finally, I was put in charge of managing the translation of the IvySpace app and website into 11 different languages. I coordinated with our developers and co-founders as well as the translators we worked with and was given the freedom to create a system to keep track of all the changes we made. At the end of my internship, I explained how my system worked to one of the co-founders so that the company could keep using it.

McLean and his cohort at a professional development event.

McLean and his cohort at a professional development event.

Since I left Hong Kong, IvySpace has released its app and completed a website redesign. When I pull up their website on my computer or go into the app to look around, I know that the work I did contributed to the end product I’m looking at. It’s a great feeling. I am also still in periodic contact with many of my coworkers, and I still help in seeking out bugs in the app from time to time. I really feel ownership over the work that I did and I feel invested in the company’s success. On top of all that, I know that I’ll have great people to meet up with if and when I visit Hong Kong again.

My summer in Hong Kong has significantly shifted my career outlook. I initially applied to Sage Corps because I wanted something different from the internships and jobs in large finance and consulting firms that my classmates and friends were tripping over themselves to get. After my experience in Hong Kong, I am more sure than ever that I want something different from those jobs. More than that, however, Sage Corps has made me realize that working abroad is a real possibility for my future, and it has made me incredibly interested in doing so. The thought had never really crossed my mind, but now that it has, I feel that my future has more potential for adventure and excitement than ever before.

Sage Corps was an amazing experience for me, and if you’re interested enough that you have kept reading to this point, I bet it would be for you too. If you’re looking for a meaningful internship alongside the opportunity to come to know a new place, look no further. If you want something a little different from what everyone you know is doing, look no further. If you want stories, new relationships, and experiences like no other, look no further. Sage Corps gave me an amazing summer, and I think that it would give you one too.

We would like to thank McLean for his phenomenal work as a Sage Corps fellow this past summer, and for taking the time to reflect on his fellowship experience! We're excited to see where his professional journey takes him, and we will be here to support him every step of the way. 

Interning abroad provides invaluable experience that employers love to see. Join the less than 1% of college students gaining international work experience today.