Written by Sage Corps 2017 alumna, Ruchi Patel.
Why Sage Corps?
When I first came across Sage Corps, it was because a friend sent me an email sent to Penn State Students and thought I would like a program like Sage Corps. Throughout my academic experiences, I have always sought after positions with both technical and creative potential, and a place where I can really learn. I was just wrapping up my second year at the Pennsylvania State University with a major in Industrial Engineering, but was looking for jobs with a scope greater than my actual degree. I applied and a few months later found myself in Chicago for the Summer of 2017, interning at a venture development startup through Sage Corps. While it seemed unconventional, this ended up being the best decision I have taken for myself; both personally and professionally.
On the Ground
In Chicago, I was introduced to my company, Coder Inc., and my role in the first week. I was excited at the work that a startup entails; I knew that I was in for a very versatile and educational experience. I was working loosely as a “technical intern”, but one of the biggest positives of working in a startup is the sheer versatility that the job description allows. I was exposed to web/app development, product management and road-mapping, blockchain development and more. Moreover, my bosses, Brian and Alex, were more than receptive to me asking to work on a project that excited me, or even taking my current project in a new direction if I saw a greater potential somewhere else. This was something unheard of in my past professional experiences, and from what my peers told me about their internships at other corporations. This sense of autonomy gave me a lot of motivation day in and day out; I ended up being first-in-last-out of the office simply because I was passionate about the work and I was getting the right guidance and recognition. I am yet to experience an environment like the one I experienced at a startup in Chicago.
My summer with Sage Corps totally changed my perspective on so many things. I got to interact with a diverse group of students, inspiring professionals and accomplished entrepreneurs in the most constructive environment possible. I learned how to project myself well in professional settings and how to listen even better. I am confident that these skills will far outlast any programming language or marketing technique (knowledge which I also gained during my internship), and having had the opportunity to immerse myself into learning how to navigate the startup universe with Sage Corps, I am so confident and prepared to pursue my own career dreams.
Where is She Now?
What really stands out for me is the lasting impression my experience has had on my professional life. I am now in my senior year, and I am taking so much of what I learnt through Sage Corps with me on committing to a full-time career. Sage Corps opened a multitude of doors for me; after junior year I had internship offers from many great companies, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to startups. I took an opportunity with a startup in San Francisco working on automated driving startup as a software intern. However, the common denominator that helped me secure all these offers was my Chicago experience. Interviewers were fascinated to hear about something different, on top of that I learned more and got my hands dirtier than peers at corporate internships. Companies recognize this, and they will always be interested in an unconventional path. I have countless connections made in Chicago through the networking events Sage Corps organized – and this was probably the aspect I appreciated most about the program. Not only did Sage Corps set me up in an internship that put me on a new career path that I am so excited about, the program taught me priceless skills in networking and professional development. My subsequent summer in California was even more successful because of the skills I took from Chicago, and these same skills I will use to grow further in the professional world.
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