Sage Whipple, DMSB’18, a second-year entrepreneurship major, will take over Northeastern University’s Snapchat account ‘northeasternu’ on Tuesday, May 24, 2016, to show us her experience on global co-op in Cambodia. In her search to find out how the rest of the world lives, Sage is working for a small social enterprise called FunkyJunk Recycled, which produces products from recycled plastic bags found on the street and aims to provide employment and job training for is local workforce.
Whipple reflects on the value of a global co-op: “It can be hugely beneficial to business majors, not only to gain life experience through living in a different way than you might be used to and growing as a person through understanding cultural differences, but also seeing how the rest of the world lives, and how the decisions and priorities that the big companies in the US and the rest of the world make and have, affect everyone.”
Read more about Whipple below and follow her story live on Snapchat at ‘northeasternu’ on Tuesday, May 24, 2016.
Q:What made you pursue this particular co-op in Cambodia?
I chose this opportunity in Cambodia specifically because it was for a company that shared my values. FunkyJunk Recycled is a small social enterprise that clears plastic bags from the streets, and gives skills training and income to local producers to make products from these bags. I want to see a world with eco-effective products and I'd like to see businesses become more sustainable, so I jumped at this chance to be part of a company that wants to do the same. This is also my first time in a developing country since I was a baby and my family lived in Bangladesh for a year.
Q: What are your main responsibilities at FunkyJunk Recycled?
My main responsibility at FunkyJunk has actually been making a film for a crowdfunding campaign that is actually launching on May 23rd. In addition to this, I've worked on all other aspects of the campaign, given presentations about the company, the importance of recycling, and the impacts of plastic waste at schools around the city. I've drafted ideas for ways to partner with bigger companies around the world, I'm setting up a quality control system to ensure high quality for every product, and right now I'm developing a marketing strategy for Perth, Australia.
Q: What made you decide to study business?
Initially I chose business as my major because I knew it was broad enough to allow me many options for career choice after graduation. Throughout my time at Northeastern, and as I strengthen my own ideals and values as an individual, I want to use my degree to make the business world a more sustainable place - one that cares about the whole world, and not just the Western world. I've declared a minor in Sustainable Business Practices in an attempt to focus more on this issue. I have a deep interest in social entrepreneurship, and I'm really excited to take the course Global Social Enterprise this fall in sort of a backwards route after having worked for a global social enterprise.
Q: How do you think experiences like yours in Cambodia might benefit fellow business majors?
It's always a good thing to gain different perspectives on any issue. Doing a co-op abroad is no exception, and it can be hugely beneficial to business majors, not only to gain life experience through living in a different way than you might be used to and growing as a person through understanding cultural differences, but also seeing how the rest of the world lives, and how the decisions and priorities that the big companies in the US and the rest of the world make and have, affect everyone.
Q: How do you hope to apply your business degree after graduation?
I honestly don't know which direction I'll go after graduation, or even for my next co-op. I would love to work for a different social enterprise in a different part of the world, but I think it would also be beneficial to get some corporate experience, which I might try to do domestically or abroad. I know I want to end up in a field where I feel good everyday about what I'm doing and how the company I work for affects people and the planet.
Q:Any final thoughts?
Every Northeastern student should go abroad. I think it would benefit every individual, and on a much broader level, the world. It's so important to experience different things - culture, language, politics, food, people - and in my own time here, has actually helped me understand home (the western world, US, California, Ojai) better, because I'm viewing it from a different light. Almost all new experiences are good, and students should take opportunities they have to get out of their comfort zone and see the world.