September 19 2023

Step Up internships linked Ashley Yang’s career in chain logistics

Ashley Yang at City Hall

If you talk with Ashley Yang, you’ll quickly understand her passion for keeping her career in forward motion. "I've got a lot to accomplish, so I have to keep moving," she says. “I knew early on I wanted to be something.”

This Step Up alumna and young Twin Cities professional says her career actually began with Step Up internships, way back when she was a student at South High School in Minneapolis. “Being part of Step Up gave me the exposure I needed to get a head start,” she says. Ashley completed her first Step Up internship with the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board in 2013, and then joined the City of Minneapolis as a Step Up marketing intern, which later turned into a part-time staff position.

Driven to succeed

Ashley’s drive to succeed became clear in high school when she no longer felt challenged by her classes. Through the Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program, she was able to start taking college level classes at age 15. Within two years, she had earned her associate’s degree in liberal arts from Minneapolis College, weeks before graduating from high school.

That same year, Ashley received the renowned Gates Millennium Scholarship, a full-ride scholarship to any accredited U.S. university for her undergraduate degree, with the possibility of sponsorship through a doctorate. She also began studies at Augsburg University, where she graduated summa cum laude two years later with a bachelor’s degree in international relations. While at Augsburg, Ashley studied abroad in Cuernavaca, Mexico, also working there as an English teacher and co-founding a language school. She also spent six months studying in Seoul, South Korea.

Right after college graduation in 2018, Ashley was immediately drawn to the business sector. She started out at SAM Nutrition, where she served as imports manager and developed end-to-end supply chain and solutions. In 2019, she and her team made Inc’s 5000 Top Fastest Growing Private Companies in the Americas list in the top 40% and top 25% the following year. Ashley then joined Kansas-City based NorthPoint Logistics in 2022 as the team lead for import operations. She also started the first team for international operations in the Minneapolis office, and broadened her scope of supply chain management and the many industries it serves.

Today, Ashley is the solutions development director at Lamex Foods, Inc. in Bloomington. “There is no ‘perfect’ description for my role,” Ashley shares. “In solutions development, the focus is to evaluate, identify, propose and implement the best and most efficient processes for teams.”

Step Up internships were the first step to career success

Throughout her high school and college journeys, Ashley says she utilized her Step Up internships to their full advantage. "Step Up taught me the power of networking. My work readiness training emphasized this as a key part of my internships, and I connected with incredible mentors who provided invaluable guidance and support that still benefits me today. At the City of Minneapolis, I started as a Step Up intern but was able to transition this work into a year-round, part-time job while I was taking college classes through PSEO.”  

When asked what she would advise current high school students who are considering Step Up, she says, "Step Up internships are the first step into the world of employment. Even if you don’t find your passion or career immediately, this early exposure will be sure to inform what you are not interested in, which is equally important and beneficial information.”

Ashley believes there is a timing for things in our lives and encourages Step Up interns and young professionals to move forward without fear of the work that needs to be done at a pace of their liking.

"Don't rush yourselves," she advises. "Young people feel pressured to reach a certain level of success at a certain time. Be proud of where you are along the way. Moving slow or fast, you're still moving. Life is not a race, it's a journey.”

Learn more about the Step Up program for Minneapolis youth and how you can participate as an intern or employer next summer.