Turkish Marketer Discovers New Career Opportunities in the Bay Area


- Utku Sahiner

Term : October, 2015
Department : Business and Management
Program : Marketing

Utku Sahiner arrived in San Francisco in 2010 after working as a marketing coordinator for an education company in his native Turkey and launching a small marketplace startup. When he arrived in the Bay Area, he wanted to find a program that would offer the practical experience and industry knowledge that he’d need to take his career to the next level. After researching graduate programs, he discovered UCSC Extension’s Marketing Management certificate program, which offered a wide array of courses, internship opportunities and visa sponsorship for international students. Within a year, he had completed the program, gained valuable internship experience, and accepted a job in sales and marketing for a major San Francisco company.

What prompted you to study in the United States?

In Turkey, I worked as a marketing coordinator for an education company, helping them to get more students and connect to foreign universities. I also launched my own startup, a marketplace for neighbors and people interested in interior design. But I couldn’t get the numbers I needed. I wanted to get more experience working at a startup, get more experience and learn how to network, so when I go back to Turkey, I could return to this project. I found UCSC Extension in the middle of Silicon Valley, and I decided to come here to use my internship experience to help me prepare for OPT. I am very glad to have done this program.

What courses stood out to you?

I loved the “Search Engine Marketing” course. I was familiar with search engine optimization, but I didn’t know it well. It showed me how to develop the skills I need—the marketing techniques I need. I knew the basics of digital marketing, but I didn’t know how to further develop myself. The SEO course helped me very much because it showed a way to help you develop and focus a campaign. I enjoyed playing with numbers.

I also liked the “Integrated Marketing Communications” class. The instructor had lots of experience, and he talked very knowledgably. I liked talking with him and the other students; we did a project in class that was very effective. It was helpful for me to learn how I can start and develop a marketing project.

What was your internship experience like?

My first internship was at an art gallery in San Francisco. As a digital marketing intern, I drove the social media channels of the company, prepared email marketing, developed email newsletters, and supported the company’s exhibitions and events in San Francisco, Napa, and Sonoma. It was a great experience. I used my search engine optimization skills at the company, prepared documentation for the website and gave them to the engineers, who developed the website based on my notes. I got to apply the fundamentals of marketing, and talked with my managers about the business side of the company, including ways to gather more interest in upcoming exhibits and future investments. I also got to meet lots of painters, writers and people interested in the arts. It was a nice experience.

I also interned for a startup that was part of 500 Startups, where I got to meet lots of people from the startup industry.

What skills do you think marketers need to have to succeed today?

Growth marketing or growth hacking is a concept that started almost three years ago, when developers or engineers who knew how to build websites realized that they didn’t know how to market them. So they started to learn business and marketing fundamentals. Growth hackers can handle the development side of the company—they know how to increase revenue and sales and have the technical skills to help every department in the company. Many startups are looking for growth engineers, programmers who know basic marketing or business techniques. If marketing students can learn coding, that can be useful. Before coming to Extension I knew a little bit of HTML and CSS, but these days it helps to know SQL or PHP; the more programming languages you know, the more attractive you are.

It also helps if marketing students have some practical experience before attending UCSC Extension. When I was looking for internships, there was huge competition even for intern positions. If you have some experience, especially in e-commerce or digital marketing, it can create opportunities for you.

Visit our Marketing Management page to learn about UCSC Extension’s unique offerings. For information on services and programs for international students, please visit our International Programs page. Browse upcoming Marketing courses.
Read more international student stories. 
Share your Extension story.