Staff Member Spotlight: Rachel Bernstein

Title
Program Director

Photos

Rachel has worked in the education arena for the last ten years. Whether teaching high school history and economics or tutoring middle and high school students, she has loved working with our world's next generation of leaders. Early in her professional career, Rachel was both a consultant and marketing professional at Accenture. She thoroughly enjoys developing Sage Corps' programming and working with Sage Corps' amazing Fellows.

What position do you hold at Sage Corps? What has been your career path so far?

I am the Director of Programming at Sage Corps, a role that allows me to bring together my previous experiences in the corporate and education sectors. My first job was with Accenture. It was a perfect gig for me at age 22. I learned so much about the business world, about the different cities where I traveled to on a regular basis, and about myself.

After five years I realized that consulting was not the best long-term career path for me, so I took a leap of faith and became a high school teacher. Teaching was much more personally fulfilling. I loved working with great kids and helping to prepare them for their eventual roles as stewards of our world.

At Sage Corps, our Fellows have already accomplished so much in their 20 or so years. It is incredibly exciting to think about what they will achieve in the next 20.

What does the future hold for Sage Corps - any exciting new programs to share?

Sage Corps’ future is so bright! We are thrilled about the prospect of expanding to new countries in 2016. Israel, Australia, and France are on our radar. So are Turkey, Kenya, Colombia, and Brazil.

In addition, we are building out our school-year programming. We will offer both full-time programs and part-time options, which will allow students to work 15-20 hours a week at a startup and attend events that will help immerse them in the local startup community, while also taking a couple of classes.

Lastly, the size of our cohorts continues to grow. From 2014 to 2015, we doubled the number of Fellows in our programs. 100% growth from 2015 to 2016 would be amazing.

What country have you always wanted to visit?

For my whole childhood, my answers were always England and Australia. As an undergrad, I had the awesome opportunity to study and intern abroad in London. Then, a few years ago, I had a chance to spend two incredible weeks in Australia.

I want to take that excruciatingly long series of flights again to see and do more but next time will definitely include at least a week in New Zealand. For me, its amazing natural beauty and outdoor activities are the two biggest draws.

The other country that I really, really, really want to visit is Italy. I have been to every other country in Western Europe (except Portugal), but haven’t stepped foot in Italy. I can’t wait to explore Italian culture, Italy’s fascinating historic cities, and Italian food. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?

There are two main reasons why language learning and cultural immersion are important to me, to the whole Sage Corps team, and to our Fellows. Students today will not be living and working in an environment that is divided by political borders.

The more authentic international experiences that students have in their lives, the more able they will be to connect with the huge variety of people that they will encounter professionally.

In addition, I think it is very important to be pushed out of your comfort zone, both geographically and psychologically. Travel, language learning, and cultural immersion go hand-in-hand with cultural and intellectual curiosity. The bottom line is that our next generation of leaders needs to be open-minded and curious about the world.

Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of the Sage Corps team.

Without a doubt, my proudest moments were with our Fellows in Hong Kong and Singapore earlier this summer. Despite major jet lag and insane heat, our students confidently engaged with venture capitalists, leaders of top accelerator programs, and driven entrepreneurs.

They impressively introduced themselves to the startup communities in both cities. They asked great questions and listened intently to the answers. They tried new foods. They navigated intimidating public transportation systems. They bonded immediately with their cohort members. The list goes on and on.

These students are embarking on the experience of a lifetime and, totally honestly, I wish I could walk in their shoes.