Jonathan, SAS class of 2011, and a graduate of Abraham Lincoln High School, is certainly making the most of his college education. From June through August, 2014, as part of Drexel University’s cooperative education program, Jonathan had the amazing opportunity to work abroad in Sierra Leone. Currently a Senior majoring in Entrepreneurship, Jonathan’s experience instilled in him a love of travel and reaffirmed his career goal of becoming an investor or business owner. We asked Jonathan to share some reflections and words of wisdom about his amazing Co-Op adventure!
Where did you travel for your co-op and who was your employer?
“I traveled to Sierra Leone, in West Africa. I worked for the decision sciences department at Drexel University.”
What kind of projects did you work on in your co-op?
“I worked with a business called P2P, Palm to Palm. They make Palm oil and soap. I helped them with management, advertising, and production. I even donated some of my own money to the business.”
What is one valuable lesson or skill you learned during your co-op?
“It was a humbling experience. As much as I wanted to help everyone, I could not. People would often ask me for money while I was there and I had to learn to say no in a way that wasn’t offensive. Many of the people were giving and very hospitable. In terms of business lessons, I learned more about product saturation in the market. “
What did you learn about yourself through your co-op experience? Did it strengthen your interest in a particular field or position? Did it help you clarify your goals?
“I learned that I love to travel. I’m quite the adventurer and risk taker when considering that this co-op experience was the first time I traveled outside of the country and was in an underdeveloped country. I was also there during the worst Ebola outbreak in its history, which was part of the reason I had to come back to the US a month early. My studies allowed me to contribute to supporting the development of this young company. I definitely want to travel again and the experience has made me more interested in starting a business.”
What advice would you give to a PF Collegian who is thinking about going abroad for a class, co-op or internship?
“I would recommend that student remain open minded about other cultures. Some of the people who traveled from the US to Sierra Leone were afraid of the locals and quickly wanted to leave the country. I ate the same food the locals ate and shared meals with them the way they would with their family. Get to know the people. You can research the culture before going there so you do know more about customs and traditions.”
We are so proud of Jonathan and all of our other bold PF Collegians who are having such amazing adventures while in college. If you’re a Philadelphia Futures Collegian who’d like to share one of your most interesting college experiences, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.