University Spotlight: Claremont McKenna College

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Located in beautiful Claremont, California at the foot of the San Gabriel mountains, Claremont McKenna College is home to some of the nation's brightest liberal arts students.

Six of them left Claremont for the summer to intern around the world as Sage Corps fellows. We spoke with four of them about their experiences.

Kimmy Tuttle

Kimmy spent her summer in Dublin as an intern at FenestraPro, a startup that provides cloud-based software tools for architects to optimize the design of building facades. At FenestraPro, Kimmy worked on redesigning the company's website and managed customer relations initiatives.

She is a junior studying International Relations and Legal Studies.

Why did you decide to participate in Sage Corps?

I chose Sage Corps because it offered me a vacation and work experience in one. I could explore a city that many of my friends had recommended to me while experiencing my first professional tech environment.

Name one of your biggest wins of the summer.

One of my biggest wins of the summer was the people I lived with. My cohort was awesome and I lived in an apartment with 5 of them; it could not have been better. We are all best friends and did a lot of fun things together. It was really nice to get home from work to a house full of friends.

What is the most valuable lesson/ most valuable skill you've learned or strengthened during your internship?

The most valuable skill I learned during my internship was adaptability. I came in with an open mind and was able to learn a lot more because of it. I did not expect to do so much web design, but I did and I learned a ton. Being adaptable in any workplace is crucial, and working abroad teaches you how to do it very quickly.

How has this experience helped you get closer to achieving your post-graduation/ career goals?

It has given me a taste of industry-level work and what electrical engineering is like in the real world. It has helped me decide what my major is, as well as what kind of a worker I am.

Upon graduation, Kimmy plans to gain international work experience before attending law school.

Kimmy and Kazandra's cohort adventuring in Ireland.

Kimmy and Kazandra's cohort adventuring in Ireland.

Kazandra Zelaya

Like Kimmy, Kazandra spent her summer in Dublin. She worked as an intern at Sensipass, a technology company that specializes in three-step security authentication. At SensiPass, Kazandra worked on the company's biometrics face scanner.

She is a rising sophomore. Although she hasn't yet decided on a major, she knows that she wants to pursue a career in the STEM field.

Name one of your biggest wins of the summer.

Developing relationships with a diverse group of minds within my cohort.

What's the most fun/ coolest thing you've done with your cohort?

On a weekend trip to Galway, one of the many famous cities in Ireland, I visited the ruins of Menlo Castle. It has been my long-life dream to visit such ruins and it was an incredible experience.

What is the most valuable lesson/ most valuable skill you’ve learned or strengthened while abroad in your city?

I believe I subconsciously placed the United States at the center of most activities related to entrepreneurship and technology. However, after being in Ireland for only a couple of weeks, I removed this perspective. The startup scene and culture in Dublin is enormous and steadily growing. There is so much talent and creativity in Ireland that it would be a shame to only look to the United States for guidance in these fields. Since I plan to work internationally, I find this mental reminder refreshing.

How has this experience helped you get closer to achieving your post-graduation/ career goals?

Although my internship was technical in nature, since I was able to interact with the CEO closely, I was able to pick up small entrepreneurial traits as well. The ability to see the connection between entrepreneurship and technology will be vital when I am pursuing my MBA/MS in STEM. Additionally, I plan to do work outside of the United States and interning internationally has aided me by mentally removing America from the center of all business interactions.  

After receiving her Bachelor's degree, Kazandra plans to pursue a joint MBA/MS in Engineering then earn her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering.

Adele English

Adele was in Buenos Aires, Argentina this summer working as an intern for Increase, an online platform that simplifies the control of credit card payments received by merchants in a safe and secure way. At Increase, Adele worked as a Business Associate Intern. She worked directly with Increase executives on product and marketing strategies.

Why did you decide to participate in Sage Corps?

When I looked ahead to the summer I knew I wanted to work for a startup or live abroad, and Sage Corps gave me the opportunity to do both.

What is the most valuable lesson/ most valuable skill you’ve learned or strengthened during your internship?

One of the most valuable lessons from living abroad is learning to be open minded. Allowing yourself to go all-in and live without inhibition is the best way to learn.

What's the most fun/ coolest thing you've done with your cohort so far this summer?

We were always having a great time exploring, dancing, and eating our way through the city together.

How has this experience helped you get closer to achieving your post-graduation/ career goals?

I am not sure what I will be doing post-grad, but this experience is proving invaluable in broadening my perspective and learning about the way I think and approach the world.

Her favorite advisor at CMC, Kari Rood, offered her insights on the value of an international internship experience for her students.

“The experiences that my students have while interning abroad provide them with a global perspective that in turn impacts the way they interact with our campus community. They learn more about cultural impact on working styles and social understanding and become more engaged individuals as a result.”

Adele's favorite professor at CMC, Laura Grant, Assistant Professor of Economics, also shared her insights on Adele's Sage Corps fellowship.

"During study abroad, even the brightest student acquires much more than she seeks. The exposure provides skills and competencies that a professor cannot teach in the classroom. Other cultures inform thinking and broaden perspectives, which the student then weaves into everyday interactions and solving big challenges. Sage Corps pushes the practicality further by layering on a learning-by-doing internship. Perhaps most importantly, the experiences also tap into our innate senses of humanity and connectedness. The student returns to campus reflecting the newly ingrained knowledge. She makes more of a practice not simply to exist in the world, but to enrich and to pass on this inheritance. "

Upon graduation, Adele plans to follow her gut instincts and enjoy whatever opportunities present themselves.

Adele and and some of her cohort smiling with their sandwiches in Buenos Aires!

Adele and and some of her cohort smiling with their sandwiches in Buenos Aires!

Hunter Kettering

Like Adele, Hunter spent his summer in Buenos Aires. He interned at PagoRural, a company with the mission of helping individuals in the agribusiness gain capital in a lower-risk, more efficient way than that of traditional lending institutions.

He is a rising sophomore and is currently undecided.

What is the most valuable lesson/ most valuable skill you’ve learned or strengthened while abroad in your city?

I would say learning how to navigate a city alone, that I've never been to before, especially when I don't speak a word of the local language, has really increased my appreciation for my life back home. It has also developed my patience and has given me mental strength. If I can adapt and hustle here, I'm sure I can do it anywhere.

Name one of the biggest challenges you've overcome this summer.

Balancing a 12 hour job with extracurriculars was a feat.

How has this experience helped you get closer to achieving your post-graduation/ career goals?

This experience was as great as it can get for me because I was surrounded by entrepreneurs (and I hope to be one one day) every single day. I learned the character traits necessary to be one, the intellectual capacity required for success, and how to get support for your startup. All of these are incredible insights that directly translate over to my future ambitions.

Why did you decide to participate in Sage Corps?

I decided to participate in Sage Corps because I wanted to work at a startup with a global mindset, and this was the best way of getting connected and introduced to that world.

Post-graduation, Hunter plans to travel the world and be an entrepreneur.

We are so impressed with all of our Summer 2017 CMC fellows! We know that they all have bright futures ahead, regardless of the paths they choose!

Cara Rebernick