To understand the impact of career preparation at Hollins, look no further than the experience of Laura “Mitch” Mitchell ’20.
Through the university’s Signature Internship Program, the business and economics double major pursued a January Short Term opportunity this year at America Needs You (ANY), a New York City-based agency that seeks to improve college completion and employment rates for first-generation college students. The internship was set up by Emily Daniels ’06, who serves as ANY’s chief external affairs officer.
“It felt like the perfect match from the beginning,” Mitchell recalls. “Although I am not a first-generation college student myself, I felt compelled by the mission of fighting for economic mobility. I knew it would be a great place to apply my educational background toward a meaningful impact.”
During J-term, Mitchell worked with ANY’s external affairs team. After her internship ended, she was invited to continue with the department as a paid consultant for two additional months. “Wonderfully, a month into my consultancy I was offered a development coordinator role, which started on a part-time basis after my consulting contract ended and will continue until I graduate,” she states. “I’ll go full-time on June 1.”
As development coordinator, Mitchell will play a key role in executing ANY’s fundraising strategy and supporting the planning of special events across the agency’s national network. In addition to working with staff in California, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York, she will help oversee gift processing and data management and coordinate digital social media campaigns.
Daniels, who supervised Mitchell’s J-term internship, will continue to be her boss. “She’s an incredible role model and I am endlessly grateful for her commitment of giving back to Hollins,” Mitchell says. “It’s inspiring for me to work alongside someone who shares the Hollins spirit and values what it means to be a woman who started at Hollins. I hope next year we can host more Hollins interns, and that I can even supervise one. I think it’s incredible when the giving comes full circle.”
Mitchell believes “every moment at Hollins led perfectly to this job and into the nonprofit field.” Her ability to think innovatively and solve problems grew from the education she received as a business major, while her study of economics helped hone her research and analytical skills. “I was also lucky to take five gender and women’s studies courses, all of which motivated me to transform my knowledge into impactful application.”
Outside the classroom, Mitchell completed two internships prior to her work in January with ANY that she notes were vital in preparing her for her new job and the workplace in general. During her first year at Hollins, she interned with the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission in Roanoke, and then worked for the Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce in Colorado her sophomore year. She was also active in Hollins’ Early Transition Program for three years, “which taught me the value of mentorship, both as mentor and mentee, and how critical it is to have support systems for racial minorities.” As chair of the Hollins Activity Board this year, she says she gained valuable knowledge about event planning and teamwork, and as a student-athlete on the university’s soccer and track and field teams, she learned about perseverance and the importance of consistently working hard.
“My time in clubs such as the Arts Association and the Asian Student Alliance has offered me encouragement to explore my interests and invest in my curiosity,” she adds, “and being a part of student government leadership throughout my four years at Hollins has taught me to model excellence and strive to be the leader for others that I would want for myself.”
Long-term, Mitchell hopes to continue working in nonprofit development with a focus on planning fundraising events. “I’m very interested in economic development, so I’m also considering government work in the future.”
Overall, Mitchell sees limitless possibilities ahead for herself. “I’m looking forward to taking advantage of all the learning and skill-building I can get in the first years of my career. My academic and extracurricular experiences at Hollins have prepared me well for any endeavor that comes my way, and I am appreciative of everyone at Hollins who has contributed to my journey – mentors, professors, coaches, advisors, peers, staff, alumnae, and the campus community as a whole.
“I have a lot to be thankful for.”