Written by Sage Corps 2016 alumnus, Rob Laventure.
Why Sage Corps?
It was the spring semester of my junior year at Penn State University and I decided to look to LinkedIn for summer internship opportunities. I typed the word “internship” into the LinkedIn search bar and began my search. As I was going through the job descriptions, the keywords “entrepreneurial-minded students” caught my attention - and that was the beginning of my Sage Corps journey. At the time I was a 3rd year Biological Engineering student with a minor in Engineering Entrepreneurship. I knew I was going to be a great fit for the program due to my engineering and business/entrepreneurial background. From there, I started the application process while learning what Sage Corps was all about and how it would will give me the opportunity to not only travel abroad for the first time in my life, but also work an internship related to what I was studying in college.
On the ground
My Sage Corps experience started in Santiago, Chile, located down in South America. I was paired through the Sage Corps process with a startup biotechnology company called takeaHand. From there I met with the founder of the company “America Silva” and we discussed my role and the plan for the summer. takeaHand is a company that creates 3D printed prosthetics as a low-cost alternative for less fortunate amputees across Central and South America. There, I came in as a hardware engineer intern to help redesign their prosthetic leg called the Bio-Step. Throughout the 8-week internship I was involved in the brainstorming, designing, and testing of the Bio Step prosthetic leg. The 8-week experience was an amazing journey, and my mind was tested and stretched in all directions. Not only did I have to learn biomechanics, but I also had to learn Spanish to communicate with the other engineers and get around the city in daily life. Every day my mind was strongly stimulated, whether from redesigning the mold of the leg to withstand the force of a 200 lb patient, or trying to order lunch from the local café in Spanish.
The moment that really provided a shift in my perspective and created a great reference for my “purpose” was when we got to the stage of “patient testing”. We had finished the printing and assembly of the BioStep leg and were on the journey to testing the leg in a real environment. I was able to meet the amputee and the doctor and get a live test recording of the prosthetic leg. Just seeing the pure joy and happiness of the patient to actually walk with our prosthetic was breathtaking. At the end, the patient said to me, and I quote, “The feeling of walking to you is a normal everyday thing, but the feeling of walking to me is like reaching the top of Mount Everest”. From that point on, I knew I made the right choice in selecting Sage Corps for my summer experience.
Where is he now?
With my fellowship through Sage Corps behind me, moving forward I was able to impress recruiters and employers with my story. Many of the interviewers were fascinated by my Sage Corps experience because it was not a common internship they saw on resumes from day to day. The experience gave me a leg up in the recruitment process as many recruiters remembered my name from the long discussion about my Sage Corps experience. After graduating from Penn State, I accepted my offer with the global consulting firm Accenture as an Consultant In-Training. I have been with Accenture for about 5 months now and have been really enjoying the experience. I have been able to travel across the United States, helping transform the businesses of today to the businesses of tomorrow. I have many more goals and aspirations I aim to achieve, and I am working everyday towards achieving them. I believe I am just on the beginning of my journey, and I am glad to have went through the Sage Corps experience. Many people have told me, “you’re crazy to pay money to work an internship abroad”, but to them I always reply, “money comes and goes, but life changing experiences are priceless."
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