“It was the best four weeks of my life.”
That’s an unlikely reaction from a freshman who traveled to South Africa to take a course in Virtual Reality. But that’s exactly what Doğuş Mordeniz ’20 had to say after spending 4 weeks in Cape Town at the study abroad career accelerator iXperience.
“Before the program, I didn’t really know any coding and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do it,” he said. “But then, it was such an encouraging and helpful and supportive environment that by the end of the program I felt very proficient and super fortunate to have met all these incredible people.”
...It was such an encouraging and helpful and supportive environment that by the end of the program I felt very proficient and super fortunate to have met all these incredible people.
Doğuş is not alone. This year, six Harvard students—and hundreds of others from top universities like Princeton, Stanford, and Oxford—traveled to the southern tip of Africa to take courses such as Virtual Reality, Data Science, Investment Finance, Product Management, and Web Development, which are not addressed well (or at all) by traditional universities.
Founded by Yale graduate Aaron Fuchs as a way to bridge the gap between classroom knowledge and real-world skills, iXperience (shortened as “iX”) attracts students from top universities around the U.S. and the world for a summer learning and internship experience. Students select from a wide range of courses, learning first-hand how to transform their knowledge into action. With no prior experience required , iX is geared towards those, especially freshmen and sophomores, who are keen on learning the skills of today and tomorrow.
iX is geared towards those, especially freshmen and sophomores, who are keen on learning the skills of today and tomorrow
More than just the classroom education, however, is the opportunity to directly employ these skills in a professional environment. For those who participate in the eight-week program, the highlight of the summer is the concluding four-week internship program. After a rigorous month of practicing and refining technical abilities through in-class and homework curriculum, students work at local businesses to continue their education in a real-world setting. With a diverse array of partner companies—ranging from large multinationals such as Uber and Groupon to small local startups—interns have the opportunity to see what sort of work suits them best.
Work Hard, Play Hard
iXperience takes a holistic approach to learning. With the belief that the best learning often happens outside of the classroom, the summer career accelerator is designed to provide experiences that lead to both professional and personal growth.
As Doğuş Mordeniz ’20 and many others would say, iX was the best four (or eight) weeks of their lives. At first, he admits, “I was a bit overwhelmed, because the city seemed so big and so amazing, I didn’t know where to start.” But iX takes care to acclimate all the foreign students to what might be their first time living alone. Housed in suites sitting right along the beachside, it doesn’t take long for students to lose their homesickness.
“Every day there are activities that the program organizes,” said Doğuş, and “every night there was something going on.” Weekend excursions include hiking trips, zip-lining, shark cage diving, wine-tasting, and more. For the adrenaline junkies, there are ample opportunities to skydive or paraglide over the beautiful scenery.
All the while, participants receive complete immersion in South African culture, and iX does its part by organizing a trip to meet some of the community. After all, Doğuş says, if they are to stay for four or eight weeks in a foreign environment, “it’s really important, because otherwise we feel like a tourist, and it’s a way for us to become a part of Cape Town.”
Throughout the years, iXperience has grown to become a community of over 680 alumni from over 120 associated colleges and universities. Bringing together such a diverse group of students is no easy task. Still, when so many bright and curious people come together, each with their own talents and perspectives, the experience is more valuable than what any could have achieved alone. As Doğuş said, iXperience was a “melting pot of all these different ideas, all these different cultures.” For many of the students, the program was not merely a pre-professional course, but was also a transformative experience that revealed the importance of teamwork and community.
For many of the students, the program was not merely a pre-professional course, but was also a transformative experience that revealed the importance of teamwork and community.
Applications for iXperience 2018 have opened, with assessments done on a rolling basis. For more information, please visit http://ixperience.co.za.
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