Virtual Internship Helps Community College Students Advance in Global Trade, Digital Marketing

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Vivacity Sportswear owner Vivian Sayward learned something new about her customers this summer, thanks to a Google Ads campaign run by two teams of students from throughout the Los Angeles region as part of the Global Virtual Internship Program (VIP) coordinated by the California International Trade Center (CITC) and Global Trade Sector of the California Community Colleges.

Each team created a Google Ads campaign targeted at potential customers in the U.S. and Mexico for Vivacity, which sells womens’ activewear. One campaign focused on the market for plus-sized clothing, while the other examined how Vivacity could target international customers with a sustainability-focused message.

The results will help Sayward shape her marketing strategy moving forward in the post-COVID marketplace.

“Roughly 30% of people clicking through our ads were men, when all along we were targeting women. We had no idea!” Sayward said. “Perhaps these men are looking for clothing to buy for their spouses or girlfriends. So, of course, moving forward, we are going to include this demographic in future campaigns/market messaging.”

Alan Vong, who recently graduated from Long Beach City College (LBCC) with a degree in business administration, did not have any experience in the women’s clothing industry before taking this internship and said he enjoyed learning about Vivacity’s customers alongside Sayward and his teammates on the project.

Vong’s team also looked at how the market for Vivacity’s products changed as a result of people working from home during COVID-19.

“Women’s clothing is available in plus sizes primarily online, as opposed to a brick and mortar location. This is an advantage for us in the pandemic market climate,” Vong said. “We also learned that people shopping for women’s activewear and work-from-home attire fall heavily into the same funnel of potential customers and recommended doing an ad campaign focused on WFH attire.”

Diversifying online sales to global markets is important for Vivacity because internet and mobile penetration is high in these markets on a global scale, and there are a variety of eCommerce platforms that make it easier than ever to reach international customers.

LBCC student Thu Kha is starting his own clothing business in Myanmar and found the internship with Vivacity helpful in understanding the basics of international marketing and running a global ecommerce company.

“I am now focusing on saving enough money to ship globally, which I learned from this internship is one of the most important skills for starting an international business,” Kha said.
Tommaso Tarantelli from Santa Monica College said the client asked if he would be interested in working more in depth with the brand to help its growth and is looking forward to those next steps. “You have to understand the needs and most importantly the vision of the client, regardless of the career path you choose,” he said. 

Montserrat Venegas, a health promotion major at LA Harbor College, drew on the customer service experience she built selling clothing at swap meets and selling musical instruments at a music store to advise Sayward about how to reach new audiences.
“I recommended the client to create a mobile friendly version of her website,” Venegas said. “Since most of the people who reacted to our ad were on their phones, it would look more appealing.”

Global Trade Sector Regional Director, Ruth Amanuel was impressed with each student’s performance during the internship. “Our goal is to inspire more students to consider Global Trade as a viable career path,” she said. “It was a pleasure to see students collaborate completely virtually, honing and refining digital marketing skills to help clients reach international markets.”

VIP Students were supervised by a professional mentor, who helped them come up to speed on the client and Google Ads, and ensured timely and professional communication with Sayward throughout the project.

“The CITC and the community colleges did an amazing job of managing each group of interns, making sure they had all the info needed for the campaigns,” Sayward said. “I really appreciated their help and support.”

The Global Trade Sector and CITC will continue to develop new internship opportunities for students in the LA Region that will help them acquire fundamental digital marketing skills. “These skills are even more pertinent in economic downturns such as COVID when businesses have to invest in their digital infrastructure and have a cross-border eCommerce strategy to survive and reach international customers,” Amanuel said. “As we always say in Global Trade, 95% of consumers are outside the US.”

For more information on Global VIP, contact Global Trade Regional Director Ruth Amanuel at ramanuel@lbcc.edu or visit https://globaltradeworkforce.com/education/. For more information on the California International Trade Center visit https://cainternationaltrade.org/

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