Dec 4, 202 | NEWS | By Hank Bedingfield | Illustration by Xixi Qin
“It felt baity,” said Silas Howe ’22, with a voice of emboldened skepticism over the phone. “It seemed like they were just trying to get us to leverage our personal social media followings to grow the company.”
Advertised as a remote opportunity for students to learn digital marketing and work within the booming industry of “influencer marketing,” Saje of Sajes worked with a group of seven Colorado College students for a mere four days.
“I was excited to learn more about digital marketing,” said BB Hall ’22, “but it quickly became clear that Saje of Sajes would not offer this.”
Students became connected with the company through Paragon One, a company which offers flexible, remote externship opportunities. The CC Career Center offered multiple eight-week remote externship projects, through Paragon One.
“The remote and flexible nature of Paragon One’s program is an ideal fit for CC’s rigorous academic structure,” Brett Woodard, Director of the Career Center’s Edge Internship Program, told The Catalyst, “since students can set their own schedule and make progress on their project any time of day or night.”
An externship with Saje of Sajes promises “a taste of the fast-paced world of digital marketing,” according to the Paragon One website, as well as “the opportunity to come up with and execute creative marketing projects for Saje of Sajes.”
The company itself, and its co-creator Saje Flow, describe its aim as “assisting people in the quest to find the path to their true selves and embrace their identities,” reports The Open News. “It’s all about helping people overcome their struggles and acquire the mindset they need to be successful.”
Some CC students did not enjoy the transcendental experience.
“It felt as though they were using young people, under the cloak of a digital marketing externship, to promote a struggling influencer,” said Hall. “My first impression was that it felt very pyramid scheme-ish. One requirement for completion was bringing 20 friends to their weekly Friday Zoom event. You also were required to post twice a week to promote their events and Saje Flow.”
Other students echoed this sentiment.
“It seemed that our main jobs were to promote the head of the company, Saje Flow, and invite people to the ‘Freedom Flow Fridays’ which seemed like culty Zoom dance parties,” said Stella Biehl ’22. “The company seemed totally exploitative of the interns and I didn’t see how I would learn any useful skills.”
Students voiced their complaints to Brett Woodard at the Career Center, who swiftly cut ties with Saje of Sajes.
In addition to general grievances which accused Saje of Sajes of exploiting students for their social media followings, and an overall “creepy” environment, Saje of Sajes was also accused of implicit cultural appropriation. The Saje of Sajes wellness model, actualized into seven identities, is marked by weekly dances like “Haka Dance for Warrior Transformation Tuesday,” “Rain Dance for Architect Triumphant Thursday,” and “Shaman Dance for Healer Soulful Sunday.”
“We were concerned about the apparent cultural appropriation reflected in some of the dance names,” Woodard said to The Catalyst. “Paragon One acknowledged the cultural references, and they agreed with our decision that it would be best to disassociate CC from this externship site.”
In the brief partnership between CC and Saje of Sajes, students made their values clear and disassociated from the potentially exploitative and appropriative movement of Saje Flow.