Leap Semester

Powered by Ei & Sage Corps
Leap Semester is a 12-week work/study program that helps college students gain real-world experience while earning full credit towards their degree.

2/3 of college students struggle to launch their career after college.* We're here to change that.

Watch how our students are preparing for their next step by designing a semester of work, travel, and learning.

Who is

Leap Semester for?

You're in college

College Sophomore, Junior, or Senior — interested in gaining work experience while earning college credit, or simply taking a gap semester.

You need experience

You learn by doing and want to make something meaningful, meet brilliant people, gain relevant skills, and build your body of real work.

You learn best with others

You see problems as opportunities, and want to learn by helping a company succeed and learning with bright and caring peers.

You're a problem solver

You’re curious about fields of study that include:

Business Development
Social Innovation

You want to see the world

You’re interested in working with teams stateside or in any number of global cities such as Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, or London.

What will you experience?


Work with a start-up that needs your skills and be fully immersed onto a team for the duration of the internship.


Learn relevant curriculum in-person and online with peers and instructors who'll mentor you throughout the program.


Earn a full semester of college credit for your coursework and projects in areas such as Marketing, Sales/Business Development, or Product Development.

amazing community

Spend time in networking events and round table discussions with leaders in areas ranging from venture capitalists to farmers. And lean on an incredible alumni network of over 300 students.


"Seeing my cohort come together to design their semester and support one another reminded me that people can and should live boldly."

Lydia Hong | Junior Industrial Design | New Jersey Institute of Technology

What will you learn?

You’ll begin by meeting your classmates in Chicago for a rigorous week-long Meetup. Together, with a group of instructors who’ve worked alongside Stanford, Kellogg, and an array of companies, we will focus on curriculum around five core competencies:

How will you learn?

In-Person + Online + In the Workplace

Though you’ll be learning about a variety of topics, all participants have the option to take a fully accredited online course in Business Operations. 

The online course, combined with the internship at a startup, are designed to provide you with a working framework for understanding how a business works and operates. Its key activities include: Business Planning, Finance, Marketing, Systems and Data, Leadership, and Venture Creation.

Each week, you’ll engage in online discussions and coaching calls with an instructor who will provide you with feedback on your work and counsel related to your internship.

This course harnesses leading tools, skills, and philosophies from business experts and cutting-edge thinkers and invite students to apply them immediately, creating valuable learning and a portfolio of experiences.

How does it end?

Not just about a resumé...

At the end of your semester, you’ll meet back in Chicago to reflect on your semester, and present your experience and learnings to family, friends, and individuals from your community. EXPO is one-part TEDx talk and one-part thesis presentation wrapped up in one celebratory evening.

By the end, you will completed real-world projects, grown your network, gained practical tools, and most importantly, developed the confidence to navigate your next step.

How does it work?

Applications Open

Fall 2018: now – November 17th

After you have been accepted to the program, you will meet with our team to find an internship. We’ll also work with you to find local accommodations and meet your local community. The Leap Semester team has a host in each city who meets with students on a weekly basis.

Pre-Launch Course

Spring 2018: January 1st – 29th

A short online course to help you meet the rest of your cohort and prepare for the experience.


Spring 2019: January 29th – February 2nd

Meet in Chicago for intensive, collaborative workshops in the 5 core competencies: Storytelling, Self Awareness, Community Building, Design Thinking and Business Operations.

Experience and Online Course

Spring 2019: February 2nd – April 20th

Travel to apprenticeship location and begin your work. This will be accompanied by an online course.

Final Meetup and Expo

Spring 2019: April 23rd – April 24th

Return to Chicago to present your work and learning at EXPO.


$10,500Cost includes:
  • One-on-one support to pair you with a 10-week internship
  • Pre-course focused on our framework to design your learning
  • Full logistical support for housing, visas, insurance, and travel
  • Intensive in-Person Meetup in Chicago around Five Interdisciplinary Competencies
  • On-the-ground cultural activities and networking events in your apprenticeship location
  • Online Course in Business Operations, with weekly calls with your instructor
  • Weekly coaching to offer support throughout your courses and experience
  • 15 Business and Entrepreneurship Credits from Columbia College Chicago
  • Final EXPO event to capture and share your Leap Semester with peers and future employers


Leap Semester Instructors and Team

Victor Saad
Founder | Experience Institute
Matt Meltzer
Founder | Sage Corps
Rachel Bernstein
Director, Programs | Sage Corps
Aaron Wilson-Ahlstrom
Director, Programs | Experience Institute
Cara Rebernick
Director of Marketing | Sage Corps
Seamus Harte
Lecturer at Stanford d.School | Storytelling Instructor
Adrian Reif
Founder of YumButter | Business Operations Instructor
Lena Selzer
Cofounder of Civilla Detroit | Design Thinking Instructor
Kevin Von Qualen
Photographer at DeepTheForest.com | Visual Documentation Instructor
Jeff Gowdy
Founder of Gowdy Consulting | Business Operations Instructor



You'll gain practical skills and knowledge that will help you in your career and life.


You'll establish valuable relationships with industry leaders and peers.


You'll develop the creative confidence and process to solve problems in any environment.


You'll embark on an experience that will shape the way you view the world, define how you can make it a better place, and provide the credibility to launch you in the next step of your career. And, you'll do so as a builder of a new type of educational model.

Yes. Upon successful completion of the program, students will receive 5 college credits through Columbia College Chicago. The following course designations for Leap Semester will appear on transcripts with student grades:

  • Introduction to Marketing
  • Business Writing
  • Business Operations
  • Entrepreneurship Case Study
  • Internship: Business & Entrepreneurship

When you apply, you’ll let us know your interests and the skills you can provide a startup company, and then , you'll work with our placement team to determine where you might fit. We do our very best to make sure you are paired with a great team. More importantly, we will teach the skills and provide the community to make any experience rich and meaningful.

Columbia College Chicago students receiving financial aid can apply that aid to Leap Semester tuition. Students from other colleges will need to ask your financial aid office to create a simple Consortium Agreement with Columbia so that your financial aid can be applied.

Sage Corps is a global entrepreneurship program that sends top college students and young professionals abroad to work with tech startups. Built by a team with extensive global experience, we offer a unique opportunity for students to do impactful work alongside rockstar entrepreneurs. Whether you decide to work in Chicago, Buenos Aires, or Sydney, we'll ensure that you dive head first into a new culture. Together with our programming team, you'll work to find an experience that matches your learning goals during your Leap Semester.

  • Intro to Business Operations (3 credits)
  • Case Study in Entrepreneurship  (3 credits)
  • Intro to Marketing  (3 credits)
  • Business Writing  (3 credits)
  • Entrepreneurship Internship  (3 credits)

Students live in shared accommodations such as shared apartments, homestays, or student residences (varies by country). Meals are provided in homestays, and kitchen facilities are available in the other locations.

Selected candidates receive an offer to join a specific company based on their skill sets and in line with their Leap Semester focus area (Design Thinking, Storytelling, or Business Operations); Leap Semester will have 2-3 start-ups flagged for the candidate

Accepted students will then skype directly with a matched startup CEO; all participants must receive a finalized offer to work with the startup directly from the startup CEO.

We currently have opportunities to work in the following cities: Amsterdam, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Chicago, Dublin, Hong Kong, Melbourne, New York, Paris, Santiago, Singapore, and Sydney.

Next Steps...

I'm interested in participating as a student.
I work with students who might be interested in participating.