Rather than taking the road less-traveled on his internship journey, Shaun Lee took one that no one else had ever set foot on. Back in 2013, while his peers were looking for more traditional summer internships, Shaun stumbled upon a new program on the University of Pennsylvania's career center portal. The program was Sage Corps. He applied and was accepted to Sage Corps' inaugural cohort and began an internship for Shopperception, a startup in Buenos Aires that provides a shopping habit analysis program for stores and merchants.
Why Sage Corps?
When Shaun applied to Sage Corps, the company was in its initial growth phase. But, Shaun wasn't scared to participate in what was the time a "green" entrepreneurship program. He explains that he spoke with Matt Meltzer, Founder and CEO of Sage Corps, and heard his personal story about his time in Buenos Aires and his passion for providing students with international entrepreneurship opportunities. After hearing that Matt developed Sage Corps because of his own international work experience, Shaun realized that he had found an exciting opportunity. He explains that Matt "was sincere and genuine about wanting to create a unique opportunity for students."
On the Program
Shaun was ultimately paired with a startup in Buenos Aires called Shopperception, and the match was a perfect fit for him. He was able to work on a variety of projects, some of his favorites including drafting up Series Seed financing documents, helping to expand the brand's value through correspondence with contacts in Asia and Korea, and strategizing new avenues of revenue growth.
Throughout his internship, Shaun was encouraged to contribute his ideas and opinions to the company. One day, he had a bright idea.
"The Shopperception platform provides customer analytics/behavior data based on a customer's movement in front of a store aisle. My proposal was to amend the business plan to not just produce customer data, but also directly engage the customers to influence their decision-making through a tablet. For example, if a customer is in front of a toothpaste section of an aisle and is hesitant on purchasing an item, a tablet in front of the aisle could light up immediately and send a message to that customer saying, 'Brand X toothpaste is on sale today for 10% off.' This would trigger an immediate 1-way engagement with the customer and potentially increase revenue for the retailers.
The idea was well-received and noted by the team, but was not implemented ultimately due to security and cost reasons. I knew that the product would not be implemented, but for all of us at Shopperception, it was a great brainstorming exercise to consider future use cases and how far the product can develop and grow in the future."
Shaun valued his internship at Shopperception because his team was very dedicated to his professional and personal development.
"While I did have independent projects to work on, they [my team members] took the time to brainstorm ideas with me and were always willing to guide me both professionally and personally. Both of the senior members of the company had extensive experience working in a large, corporate company, so hearing about what is important and how to succeed in such an environment was invaluable."
Shaun's experience and success as a Sage Corps fellow made a lasting impact on him. In fact, it is the only professional experience from college left on his resume. During job interviews he is often asked about his time with Sage Corps.
"My time in Argentina definitely made me reflect on my future career aspirations, and the opportunity to engage in an operational capacity at an early state startup was one of the most rewarding professional experiences."
Where is he now?
After graduating college, Shaun went into investment banking. He quickly realized that the industry was not a good fit for him, and decided to pursue other opportunities. He recently received a job offer at a venture capital firm and is very excited for what the future holds. With each new opportunity comes the chance to use the skills and lessons that his time with Sage Corps taught him.
"I am really excited for the new opportunity. Like I learned to do in Buenos Aires, I hope to continuously develop and push myself in this new capacity and hope to become a sponge for knowledge. I am not sure what exactly will happen further down the line, but I see myself hopefully working on more cross-border projects."
Shaun is a bright young man and a proud Sage Corps alumnus, and we are proud to have him as a member of the Sage Network. We look forward to supporting him in his future endeavors, and are excited to see what the future holds for him!
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