By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word
Ashley Askin is 21 years old and is living in two very different worlds, one where Georgia Tech’s outside hitter feels like she’s leading and another where she’s learning.
Helping fellow seniors Sydney Wilson, Gabby Benda and Gabriela Stavnetchei mentor seven freshmen volleyball players is quite different from working as an intern with CBRE, a world-wide leader in commercial real estate.
“They’ve been doing great. They’ve been here about [two weeks],” Askin reports of the newcomers. “My biggest goal for the summer is to make sure they feel included. If they need help getting places, I want to be there for them and mentor them. It’s my part of my job as a senior to really step up and show some leadership with the newbies.
Askin understands as a newbie herself in the real estate world.
“This is my first time looking at real estate. I’ve really been trying to tap into the people in every department just saying `Hey, let’s go grab coffee, or lunch.’ in order to really get a grasp of every aspect of commercial real estate.
“It’s really important to take advantage of this opportunity and get the most out of this experience by talking to all the people and absorbing what they have to say.
“I think with my skill set I can be really successful, and learn all that I can,” Askin said of commercial real estate and the process of personal and professional discovery. “I love it. Not only are we the leader in real estate, [CBRE is] just filled with great people. It’s the Chick-fil-A of the real estate world.”
Funny enough, while at CBRE’s Atlanta corporate headquarters in Buckhead, Askin finds herself almost surrounded by former Bulldogs, and “I want to say, `To Hell With Georgia,’ but they have Real Estate degrees; Georgia has a real estate program.”
Tech does not, although former Yellow Jacket Tony Kepano, who lettered four times playing football and was named team captain his final year while on The Flats from 1981-’84, is an vice chairman in CBRE’s Industrial and Logistics Advisory and Transaction Services.
He’s not the only former Jacket in the building. Brent Woodruff, a former Georgia Tech athletic trainer, is the executive vice president in CBRE’s Global Coporate Services Group. He is one of the biggest reasons that she’s there. “I connected with him at an endowment dinner and started talking about my business interests, “she said. “That’s kind of how I got into CBRE.”
Growing up in Louisville, Ky., and even as a college freshman, the daughter of former Notre Dame football player John Askin and former Irish volleyball standout Denise Askin, did not see herself coming to this spot. Her path hasn’t been linear.
She lit out as an industrial engineering major.
That changed after she dipped her toes into the total Tech experience, and now she’s majoring in business with a concentration in marketing and seeking a certificate in psychology.
Hey, the 6-foot-1 Askin doesn’t limit her multi-tasking to spiking volleyballs, blocking opponents’ tries at the net and digging them out when they go deep.
“I realized that I’m more business-minded. I do really well networking, talking to people and problem solving,” she said of her change of course. “Marketing was interesting to me because I’m a very creative person.
“As I was taking my courses, I took a couple psychology courses. That was fascinating. There is not a lot of money in that unless you open a practice, but it can you understand how to market to people and their motivations.”
That’s not all Askin does; in addition to working 40 hours a week, she is working out every morning, and then practicing with teammates most evenings. But no coaches as NCAA guidelines do not allow that in summer, so it’s up to Askin and the other seniors to get the team ready for preseason in August.
She is, or was when her internship began, a neophyte in the real estate business. Remember: Tech does not have a real estate program.
“I’m helping with a portfolio for General Electric, learning software and mapping systems, helping prepare property reviews and assessments,” she said. “I took a personal sales course last semester, and I’ve taken a career development course: how to talk in the business world. I’m trying to learn as much as I can.”
Funny enough, again, a Jacket has come to feel right at home among Bulldogs.
“There’s a lot of UGA grads here, and they have real estate degrees. Everyone I’ve met at CBRE from Tech, none have real estate degrees. [Yet] what I’ve found is that Tech does a great job preparing you,” Askin said. “Our Athletic Association, the Total Person program and everything I’ve learned at Tech, I was way more prepared for this internship than I thought I would be.
“Going to Tech and having to balance that workload, take those super hard courses and do all the workouts . . . we are way more prepared for the workforce.”
On campus, Askin is a veteran, and it’s good that she and her senior teammates are around to shepherd freshmen Cori Clifton, Sam Knapp, Grace Rigsbee, Dominique Washington and Kendall Wilson — Sydney’s sister. Alessia Del Romano is to arrive from Bologna, Italy next month.
“I work out about five days a week, go in at 6 a.m. to 7:30, come home and get ready for work,” Askin explained. Then, open gym [after work]. We work on passing and hitting, or the whole team will come in and scrimmage 6-on-6. [Coaches] are out recruiting. It’s mainly on us four seniors.
“I think we’re going to shock people. The chemistry we have is so good. These freshmen really have been fitting in so seamlessly. They’ve been doing great.”
School starts anew in a little more than a month, and the future looks bright.
“I feel like I hit the nail on the head, hit the jackpot with both this internship and with Georgia Tech. A lot of people say that [college] goes by real quick, but I feel like I’ve soaked in every experience. I don’t think it went by quick, or slow. I’m excited.”