Workforce Southwest Washington’s Future Leaders Project
The Future Leaders Project is an initiative of Workforce Southwest Washington, Columbia River Economic Development Council and WSU Vancouver that seeks to connect students from historically marginalized communities with regional employers and provide them with tools to thrive as they prepare to enter the workforce. This initiative also ensures students are paid, gain experience, and receive additional mentorship, network, and professional development opportunities.
Edge Networks has had the privilege of participating in the Future Leaders Project numerous times since 2019. Past participants also include local businesses such as Columbia Bank, Port of Vancouver USA, Point North, YWCA Clark County, CREDC Economic Development, TwinStar Credit Union, and more.
Future Leaders Project | Johnny’s Marketing Internship
We interviewed Johnny to ask him about his marketing internship experience with Edge Networks; here’s how it went:
Tell us about yourself! Who are you, and what fun things did you work on during your internship?
My name is Jonathan Zacarias, but everyone knows me as Johnny. I am a WSU Vancouver student working towards a bachelor’s degree in marketing. I have an associate degree in machine tool technology but decided to return to school to pursue a new career.
This summer, I had the opportunity to intern at Edge Networks, where I learned various new skills. During my internship at Edge, I learned to navigate Google Analytics, became knowledgeable in Google Search Ads, edit webpages on WordPress, keep track of leads with HubSpot, and find potential leads with ZoomInfo.
During my internship at Edge, I learned many helpful marketing tools, including GA4, WordPress, HubSpot, and ZoomInfo. I even got my certification in Google Search Ads.
Looking back, I am grateful for all the valuable experiences I gained this summer. The opportunity to get real-world experience has also helped me understand some fundamental marketing principles more clearly. I am now looking forward to returning to school and taking classes that will help me with my career in the future.
What helped you decide on Edge Networks?
What ultimately made me choose Edge Networks was the office feeling. It is a completely different work environment from what I’m used to. I was debating between Edge and another small family-owned business. However, when I visited the other internship, they were still in the building stage, working from the shop where they made their products. There was no marketing or sales team and no one to learn from. Coming from a manufacturing background, I wanted to experience something different and broaden my experience.
With Edge Networks, I knew I would have the ability to work as a team and be mentored by someone. Being able to join in on meetings was also something I wanted to experience. Since the pandemic, many virtual meetings have become standard in the workplace. And with my past jobs being more hands-on and in-person, I needed to gain this skill. The internship has exceeded my expectations in this regard. By attending a meeting with the whole staff or a smaller one with a more focused agenda, each gave me the experience I sought, leaving me with the sensation that I made the right choice choosing Edge Networks to do my internship.
What unexpected thing did you learn from your Future Leaders Project internship?
I didn’t realize all the different resources that are used in marketing. Within the first few weeks of the internship, I got real-life experience of how the marketing funnel works, from prospecting to remarketing and then, inevitably, converting.
Tell us about the skills you’ve learned and how they can help you in your career.
I learned to adapt to various scenarios, the importance of communication in a teamwork environment, which they do well here at Edge, and that I enjoy the freedom to be creative. These newly acquired skills will help me tremendously as I head back to school, and I look forward to applying them.
As I finish my internship here with Edge, I’ll continue my studies at WSU Vancouver, for which I’m on track to finish by Winter of 2024. Upon graduation, I’ll explore my options and potentially return to Edge Networks! I truly enjoyed working here, and knowing that many WSUV graduates are already working here shows that it’s a great place to be.
Future Leaders Project | Whit’s Experience Leading the Marketing Internship
Whit Maley, our Marketing Manager at Edge Networks, managed Johnny directly during his marketing internship. We interviewed Whit about the experience; here’s how it went:
How was your experience managing the internship?
Having an intern was a highly valuable learning experience for me. What’s fascinating is how much it enhances your grasp of your own role as you strive to educate another person. Only when you make an effort to articulate the intricacies of the job do you truly understand the level of involvement it requires.
Moreover, guiding someone along their professional and educational journey creates a sense of fulfillment. The privilege of sharing insights that go beyond formal education and the knowledge that you’re giving someone an advantage as they enter the workforce brings about a genuinely rewarding feeling.
Was there anything you learned in the process?
I learned more about my managing style. When you’re responsible for another person, you have to reflect more on yourself to be able to help them.
Any advice for future students hoping to intern with the Future Leaders Project?
I was fortunate to work with Johnny as my intern, and what was so great about him was his work ethic and ability to communicate. Those skills sound simple, but they’re not. So that’s my biggest advice. Be a good communicator. Actually, be an over-communicator and show up to work willing to get the job done.
Why should students interested in Marketing choose Edge Networks for their internship?
At Edge, you will be surrounded by people who want to root for you. People who only want to see you grow and succeed. Plus, in Johnny’s words, I’m “the best boss ever.” And that’s a direct quote.
To learn more about the Future Leaders Project, we recommend visiting the WSU Vancouver website here.