Elijah Leskinen (20) is currently going into his third year as an undergraduate at Brown University. He is majoring in Economics, and is in pursuit towards the business career path. Originally from Tennessee, Elijah has been traveling to California to intern at start-up companies. The combination of his modest personality, and achievement-oriented mindset allowed him to become one of the top performing RCA’s (Residential Cleantech Advisors) at Pace Avenue. Elijah’s contributions to the company really have helped Pace Avenue grow much faster than anticipated. This is what what he had to say about his experience in the field!
What were your expectations before entering this internship? How was the experience different?
- I expected that I wouldn’t be involved in the main operations, especially since I had the impression that interns aren’t defined as frontline work. However, I was actually surprised by how much responsibility I was given since the first week of my internship. I worked alongside Spencer, the director of our marketing team, who showed me how to go out to the field and canvass. The responsibility of speaking directly to customers gave me more passion and pride in my work. In addition, canvassing allowed me to use my own personal skills to my advantage. I was able to articulate myself, while maintaining a formal conversation with homeowners. I personally enjoyed this type of work, because I felt like I was actually contributing to the company. I also quickly realized that this was the perfect opportunity to obtain real world experience for my future career.
What were some of the things you learned about PACE and the products?
- The main thing I learned was how the entire cycle of day-to-day operations run for a start up business. Working with Spencer gave me an inside look into what the daily life of a marketing director was like. He took to time to teach me how territory management is handled, and even showed me how our positions contributed to the growth of Pace Avenue. It was certainly fascinating to witness the company get closer to its goals each day.
- After spending time in neighborhoods across the Bay Area, I also realized how desperate homeowners are when they need to repair their leaky roof, but can’t afford it. Paying for a damaged home is certainly expensive. However, homeowners are able to pay for it with the help of PACE financing. I learned that installing energy efficient home improvements would subsidize energy costs, raise property values, and generate clean energy for the environment. At the end of the day, I learned how vital PACE services truly are especially for people who are struggling to live comfortably in their homes.
Tell us some stories from the neighborhoods you visited?
- One experience that stood out to me while canvassing was when I set 7 appointments in a day. I felt like I was unstoppable, because each homeowner was interested in what I had to say. That day I learned that if I approached homeowners with a genuine personality they would feel less skeptical about the PACE program. I was able to gain the trust of homeowners through sincere and friendly conversations. I did my best to emphasize that this program was created to benefit them, not hurt them. I would bring that consistent energy to every approach, and it would work! It’s definitely an exciting feeling whenever I was able to schedule an appointment for a homeowner.
How did you end up at Pace Ave?
- Last summer I interned for another startup company where I met Brad (Co-Founder of Pace Avenue). During one of our conversations, he told me that he was an alumni of Brown University. That immediately caught my attention, since I am currently an undergraduate student there. I was impressed by Brad’s brightness, and his clear direction to where he is going in life. We exchanged contact information so we could stay in touch throughout the my school year. Right before summer started this year, he sent me an email letting me know that there was an open internship position for the summer with his new start-up. I wanted to head back to the Bay Area for the summer simply because I love the atmosphere there. I believe people in the Bay Area are the type of people who pursue their ideas rather than just talk about them.
What type of work were you doing before?
- I interned for a company called “Lily Robotics.” They had a bunch of interns doing product and user experience testing. My role also focused on CRM management and customer support service. I basically reached out to unsatisfied customers and found out solutions that would make them happy about the service. I thought my experience at Pace Avenue was different from the Lily Robotics role because I had more responsibility on a daily basis. Pace Avenue also granted me a more hands-on experience and gave me the opportunity to excel in the field.
What do you want to do after you graduate?
- Initially, I wanted to focus on private or investment banking. However the more time spend out here in the Bay Area, the more I get interested in integrating technology and entrepreneurship. I am thinking about maybe starting my own business one day or I may even look into opportunities in quantitative trading.
What was your favorite part of working with the team?
- My favorite part was how close everyone was in the company. The common goal of helping 10 million homeowners upgrade their homes with energy efficient home improvements is on the mind of each employee. The unique aspect of this company is that Pace Avenue didn’t focus on individual success, instead they focused on success as a whole. Everyone has a vital role that helps the company grow and get closer to the common goal. It was great seeing everyone work together as a unit.