“Intern Spotlight” is a series about former CEC interns, detailing their experiences at the organization and finding out what they are up to now. Over the years, hundreds of interns have helped CEC with its environmental programs while gaining useful skills and connections pertinent to their future careers.
Ashley Koide is an Account Executive at Yelp! where she assists small business owners with online advertising. Ashley worked at CEC as a Green Business Program intern while in her last year as an undergraduate student at UC Santa Barbara, majoring in Environmental Studies.
Tell us more about your internship at CEC:
I primarily focused on the Green Business Program of Santa Barbara County, which certifies local businesses as models of sustainable business. I educated and recruited businesses in Isla Vista for participation in this certification program.
For a couple of months I also helped with marketing for CEC’s annual Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival, including social media and other outreach efforts. Promoting and helping out at a festival that connects people to local businesses was so rewarding. I was glad to be a part of a team that felt like family, who all had similar beliefs.
Do you feel you had at least one mentor during your time at CEC? If so, what did this mentor teach you?
Yes! The Online Marketing Coordinator at the time, Brina Carey, taught me so much about marketing, as well as gave valuable career advice. She taught me how to use HTML for websites and taught me about several social media platforms. Assistant Director Sigrid Wright was also very encouraging in regards to my personal growth for my future. I learned so much through our conversations, and it helped me explore my values.
Tell us about your current position.
I recently finished a training program for the Account Executive position at the Yelp! headquarters in San Francisco. The majority of people in the program were recent college graduates, and a surprising number came from Santa Barbara. I heard about this program at a UCSB career fair, and a sorority sister provided a reference for me. Yelp! seems to like people from Santa Barbara; maybe because we have an energetic vibe! The training provided has been great and the atmosphere here is amazing.
Currently, I work with small business owners and encourage them to try one of Yelp!’s online advertising programs. Basically, I make cold calls, recruiting small businesses such as auto shops, dentists, etc. Many of these people have survived just with word-of-mouth advertising until now, and my job is to show them that an online advertising program can improve and expand their business.
It’s interesting to me that everyone in the Account Executive program was trained to do the same job, yet our experiences vary so greatly, since we all talk to different people in different types of businesses across the country.
How do you feel about making cold calls? Has it been difficult?
I started off afraid of being rejected, but the more I learned and the more I trusted our products, the more these calls made sense to me. Once you believe in what you are selling, it makes the calls a lot easier. Some people may not be interested in what I have to offer, but that’s okay. Yelp! is growing and is helping many small businesses to grow too. I am just waiting for the day I will get to call a solar company!
How has your CEC internship helped you in your current position?
I learned that I really enjoy supporting local businesses, especially because so many of them were started by families and have been family-owned and operated for generations. My CEC internship also helped me realize that I love talking with and meeting new and interesting people. And now I get to talk to people from all over the country with a variety of business backgrounds.
What differences have you noticed between working at CEC and working at Yelp?
CEC has a small, very intimate team of committed individuals with strong values and passion for what they do. The Yelp! team feels very large in comparison. I’ve been lucky to have great managers, so I don’t feel lost in such a big company, with approximately 700 employees at the San Francisco headquarters alone. They really focus on training their employees to the best of their ability so that we can succeed.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on really getting out of my comfort zone and becoming better and better at connecting with the people I talk to.