Research and Impact

From Capitol Hill to capital firm: Sarah Ladipo's latest internship takes her inside startup culture

She’s interned on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and on a gender project with Harvard. Next, Sarah O. Ladipo is getting an inside look at a venture capital firm in Columbus, Ohio, this summer.

Ladipo is taking advantage of a wide range of experiential learning opportunities beyond the bricks of Athens.

Ladipo, from Pickerington, Ohio, is a rising senior majoring in philosophy from the College of Arts and Sciences and a Cutler Scholar. Throughout her years at Ohio University, her multiple internship opportunities have allowed her to explore her multifaceted interests.  

When it comes to applying to experiences outside one’s major, Ladipo encourages all OHIO students to not be afraid to step out of the box. “Your major really doesn’t limit you. Only you limit you,” she said.

“I think that’s what colleges are for. We are in the prime of our youth, discovering what we want to do, and we should not in any way, shape or form, limit ourselves. That’s what I am trying to do in college, just making the most of it,” Ladipo said. “That’s an approach I’ve had over the years and when I try to advise my mentees or younger students, I say, ‘Just don’t stick to one thing, do other things that you are interested in.’” 

Sampling the startup culture

Ladipo is spending this summer as an intern at the Ohio Innovation Fund, or OIF, a capital venture firm based in Columbus, Ohio. The fund was co-founded by OHIO, along with Ohio State University and Kent State University, to help fund innovation efforts in the state. Today, OIF has several areas of investment, including cell and gene therapy, augmented and virtual reality, cyber security, data science and more.

“I think it is so important what OIF is doing because here in the Midwest, we don’t have such a startup culture like there is in California or New York. The fact that we’re kind of starting that innovation here is super exciting,” Ladipo said.

During her internship, Ladipo will work closely with several startups and businesses across the state, making an analysis of companies that OIF wants to fund. So far, her favorite aspect of her internship is being able to work with a hands-on and approachable team that is willing to teach her.

Gaining government and research experience

This is not Ladipo’s first internship as a Bobcat. As a sophomore, she journeyed to Washington, D.C., to work as an intern in Sen. Rob Portman’s office on Capitol Hill. During her time there, she talked with Ohioans and people across the nation and listened to what they needed aid with.

Last summer, she also completed a research apprenticeship at Harvard University’s Gender Sci Lab, led by Dr. Myrna Perez Sheldon, OHIO assistant professor.

In May 2021, Ladipo was also appointed by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine as a student trustee to the Ohio University Board of Trustees for a two-year term that ends May 13, 2023.

“[Having these multiple opportunities] showed me that I can excel in all of the things I want to excel in. I can pursue all the things I want to pursue in, and it also made me realize how things are very interconnected,” Ladipo said. “One thing led to another thing, to better opportunities.”

Each of her unique internships were pointed out to Ladipo by OHIO faculty.

She found out about the OIF internship through Paul Benedict, associate professor of instruction and executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, through Stanford’s University Innovation Fellows program.

Similarly, Ladipo found out about the Gender Sci Lab research opportunity through Sheldon, who is also the Cutler Scholar Program director. She heard about the Capitol Hill internship in her POLS 1010 – Politics in the United States class and went through the interview phase as a first-year student.

Putting her humanities major to work

These connections and bonds with her professors allowed Ladipo to grow her many interests in politics, start-ups, gender, research and so much more through her internships. She credits her major in philosophy as helping prepare her for these experiences.

“Philosophy has allowed me to become a critical thinker and really being able to look at things holistically and from different angles and trying to problem solve,” Ladipo said. “It has helped me tremendously at OIF because I’m the only humanities/social science major, so I pride myself in giving a different perspective than their [business] perspective.”  

Ladipo also loves learning new skills, which has found her taking computer science courses and working on how to code.

As Ladipo gets ready for her senior year at OHIO, she has plenty in store. A proud Nigerian, she is a Diversity Leadership Ambassador on campus. She will also continue her role as a student trustee and has plans to speak at an artificial intelligence conference in Cleveland.

Looking for research or internship positions? OHIO students can find tailored opportunities on the Experience OHIO webpage.

June 30, 2022
Jalyn Bolyard