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3 posts from July 2017


Leadership Academy: In the words of Akvile Valentukonyte

Market research in streets of Portland

I can‘t count all the times I have walked past a person on the streets wearing a branded t-shirt in neon colors and holding a clipboard. I would look for warning signs like a readjusted smile or an eye contact that would signal that they are going to approach. If I spotted anything that threatened my peaceful introverted stroll through the city, I would turn on the flight response like increase my pace and point my eyes down. If by some chance the person approached me, I would murmur an excuse and speed away hoping to never see them again. I believe everyone has at least once done the same. Blessed be the anonymous mothers theresas among us that have never avoided a surveyor on the streets. Market 1

The experience that changed the way I see these mundane interactions was being forced to step into a surveyor’s shoes. Recently we were presented with a challenge by Portland Sea Dogs baseball team to find new ways to make the stadium more attractive to millennials. In order not to make ASSUMPTIONS we had to get to know our market. CIEE team really means a hands on experience when they say it. On Wednesday afternoon we put on our bright blue CIEE t-shirts and took a clipboard with a survey we had designed earlier. We went down to downtown Portland and after a doughnut from a local business headed to the streets in pairs.

Gathering data was definitely intimidating, especially in our second language. Trust me, nobody likes to bother a person going down the street full speed with earbuds on, even surveyors. After a little conversation “You go first – No, you go first” the first guy we approached was a fellow surveyor who was collecting signatures for local government representative. That day we encountered a lot of people some were rude, some were helpful, some were confused. One good word or sincere answer would make us empowered after a series of turn downs. We heard countless excuses and rejections, but learned not to lose hope and persevere. At the end of two hours together with my team mate we had 31 responses. Akvile2

Maybe some other more experienced surveyor would have managed to get more, but we not only traversed Portland streets. We walked from intimidation and confusion to boldness and resilience. Speaking for myself, I will look to the surveyors I encounter with empathy, because of their fearlessness to look for an opportunity of change right here on the streets. And maybe start counting the times I stopped to help them.


Leadership Academy 2017: In the words of Marta Paula Vinerte

On July 9th we - thirty emerging leaders from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - started our long awaited journey to the United States of America. After a long trip form our home countries to Boston, Massachusetts we were greeted by our resident staff and taken to our final destination – “Southern Maine Community College” in South Portland, Maine.

On day 1 we were already engaging in our first tasks and activities, one of them being a trip to the local minor baseball team's 'Portland Sea Dogs' stadium, where we were taken on a tour, divided into three groups and given our first big team task - to do a market research and find out, what would attract millennials to attend a baseball game.

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On day 2, after being given insight about how a primary market research works, we started to work on our projects and did a good job creating a survey that we could carry out in order to do our primary market research. In the end of the day, we did some more "research" on baseball by learning the rules and playing it on our own it's the help of our resident staff Sarah Kate, Sam and Seamus.

Day 3 was a big day for us as we went to Downtown Portland to interview some of its millennials. Before 'getting to business' we visited the "Holy Donuts", listened to its owner's story of success and of course had a taste  of her deliiiicious donuts! After that we went into the streets of Portland and interviewed some of its millennials - locals as well as tourists. This activity gave as a chance not only to understand how primary market research actually works, but it also allowed us to get to know the American people and culture a bit better. I can say that it was pleasantly surprising to see how responsive and polite Portland citizens are. The majority of them are happy to engage in conversations, and even if they didn't have time to respond to our questions, they let us know about it in a nice way. The program participant Edita says that "it was nice to see how responsive the Portland people are and how much they actually care about the local businesses." She adds that "it was a pleasant experience and that she was really happy to do the survey."
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The following day was filled with hard work for everyone. Our main task on day 4 was to analyze the data, which was gathered from both primary and secondary research, make a presentation as well as our speeches and practice them in front of our teachers and resident staff. All three teams showed great dedication and worked on their projects until the last minute, trying to make everything as perfect as possible.
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Friday was the big day for us. Sea Dogs representatives arrived at SMCC to listen to our presentations. The feedback we got was very satisfying and we were all happy about the fact, that they seriously considered our ideas and suggestions. Sea Dogs staff, our teachers, resident staff and the students themselves all made sure that everyone had made a lot of effort. However, only one team could win and that was team nr. 1, who were given Sea Dogs foam fingers as gifts.
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After the presentations all of us felt relieved, happy and excited for the adventures that were in store for us in the weekend. :)




Intern learns all the tricks of growth hack marketing

Estonian intern, Sander Sillavee, has fulfilled his internship at WeTravel Inc in San Francisco. WeTravel was pleased to harness Sander's talents for executing their online growth marketing strategies. Sander was provided frequent access to the latest trends in growth hack marketing, in addition to various networking and learning events, as well as other resources that would bolster his skill set.  Sander ultimately learned how to set up online marketing campaigns on his own, and implement new skills such as analytics, retention and conversion strategies through a varieties of tools and methods. Sander had the privilege of working under WeTravel's CEO and Co-Founder Johannes Koeppel, who has specialized in online entrepreneurship and marketing. Sander had the opportunity to attend cultural events in the Bay area, including Silicon Valley startup events, as well as company retreats at numerous Californian landmarks.  "I am definitely very satisfied with my year here," says Sander. "I had a lot of responsibility and that helped me to grow professionally." With his return to Estonia, Sander has plans to apply for a Communications Management Masters program at the University of Tartu, and then look for further career opportunities.

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Sander at WeTravel. In the background, photos of the staff at WeTravel.