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NetWORK of Success

Providence Day helps Chargers gain valuable real-world skills and experiences needed to be successful — while in the classroom and even after they’ve graduated.

The PD NetWORK, a new program managed by the Office of Institutional Advancement, helps provide internship and mentorship opportunities in various industries for young alumni as a means of developing professional experience.

“We listened to our alumni through conversations and surveys, and internship and mentor opportunities were a common theme,” said Jeffrey Appel, Associate Head of School for Institutional Advancement. 

“We reached out to our Providence Day community and connected with several companies in need of interns who were willing to provide opportunities for our alumni,” he said.

The endeavor stems from Institutional Advancement’s goal of outreach to and engagement with PDS’s alumni community. Other initiatives include hosting alumni events both in Charlotte and around the country, and establishing chapters in various cities with large alumni populations.

Nine young alumni have already participated in PD NetWORK, having chosen from among 11 internship opportunities this past summer. The feedback has been positive, said Steve Bondurant ’98, Alumni Relations Director.

“They gained valuable experience in their respective roles and felt they were better prepared for life after college and the business world,” said Bondurant.

“My experience working for SHARE Charlotte was amazing and fulfilling. I was able to learn new skills and hone old ones,” said Mac Willard ’14, who interned as a writing and social media coordinator.

SHARE Charlotte is a community engagement platform that connects people with nearly 400 local nonprofits and organizes community-wide giving campaigns.

Willard, who is majoring in psychology at Ohio Wesleyan University, got to cultivate a variety of skills and interests, including visual/digital assignments, event photography and marketing strategies while he and fellow Class of 2014 graduate Miah Murphy assisted with the SummerSHARE campaign, a collection drive to benefit nonprofits.

“They handled logistics for events, helped us distribute marketing material around the city and helped us form additional relationships with local businesses,” said Amy Jacobs, SHARE Charlotte’s campaign and sales manager. “They helped us document processes, outline marketing plans, execute social media promotions and with general community outreach.”

The interns’ “youthful perspective” was invaluable, said Jacobs, because it helped the organization better engage one of their primary demographics — young professionals.

“Their knowledge of social media helped our nonprofit partners expand their abilities to market themselves through that medium during our campaign,” she said. “As a nonprofit, we could never have afforded to pay for all the things they helped us accomplish.”

It was Willard’s first time working behind the scenes on such a campaign. “This experience will help me work on other marketing and social media campaigns in the future,” he noted.

Likewise, Julia Marx ’15 found her internship with SHARE Charlotte to be beneficial.

“One of my biggest roles … was researching and compiling information about poverty issues from a local to global scale and then presenting my findings,” she said.

Marx, who is majoring in Biology of Global Health and minoring in economics at Georgetown University, worked with Kelly Brooks, SHARE Charlotte’s CEO, to brainstorm and develop a meaningful social responsibility program.

“We took static information, brainstormed and created meaningful strategies and outlines for an effective program,” said Brooks. “I would have never had the time to do the amount of research Julia did, which made the project deeper and richer.”

Throughout the process, Marx learned much about the charities and organizations that assist people in need throughout the Charlotte area.

“Not only did I gain valuable work experience, but I also felt and saw the need to do good for others,” she said. “I am pre-med and hope to become a doctor, and this internship reinforced my desire to help people.”

Ross Vandermore ’15, who is studying finance with concentrations in banking and risk management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, undertook an internship with AccruePartners, a Charlotte-area staffing agency, along with fellow Class of 2015 graduate Christian Ortiz.

“What initially attracted me to this particular industry was the substantial amount of learning potential it offered,” said Vandermore. “Not only was I interested in learning about various lines of business and industries, but I also wanted to know how to present myself in a way that attracted employers and what the interview process was like with larger companies.”

Vandemore’s primary duties included locating qualified candidates for various roles across a variety of industries and companies. The experience and insights gained were incredibly beneficial, he said.

“I learned so many valuable skills and lessons that you can’t get in the classroom,” said Vandermore. “I was fortunate enough to learn all I had hoped to and even more over these last few months.”

Ortiz, a business major planning to concentrate in consulting and finance at UNC-Chapel Hill, assisted with candidate searches as well as research projects on specific job markets. He created reports that outlined demographics, job markets, target companies and contracts. As a college sophomore, he felt his internship with AccruePartners couldn’t have come at a better time.

“It not only gave me insight into the intricacies of landing a job, but also prepared me to start thinking about my future career,” said Ortiz. “The employees at AccruePartners were not solely focused on teaching me how to do the task at hand … rather, they stressed the importance of growth and professional development.”

The rewards haven’t been one-sided. Companies participating in the PD NetWORK gave positive reports about the alumni involved, noted Bondurant.

According to Patty Comer, AccruePartners’ co-founder and partner, PDS alumni have been consistently the “top performers” in her company’s internship program.

“Christian and Ross specifically took great pride in their work, sought out mentors and came to work each day prepared and unafraid to ask questions in a very grown-up world,” said Comer.

Jacobs said SHARE Charlotte’s PDS interns were equally impressive.

“Our nonprofit partners also shared with us that they were particularly impressed with the caliber of our interns,” she said. “Many of the nonprofits got to meet (them) and they wanted to know where they could also find such fantastic, quality interns.”

The Institutional Advancement Office plans to expand the program to provide even more opportunities this coming summer and beyond.

“We are continuing to have conversations with companies and gauging their interests in participating and providing positions,” said Bondurant.

He encourages organizations — especially those owned or managed by PDS parents, alumni parents or alumni — looking for high-level help during the summer months to contact the Institutional Advancement office to discuss the benefits and the process of the program.

Comer recommends that employers consider partnering with the PD NetWORK.

“Each PDS alumni intern has surpassed our expectations, adding business value and creativity, and are so refreshing in the work environment with their thirst for knowledge about the employment landscape,” she said.

Bondurant also wants to hear from alumni.

“If alumni are looking for internships or mentors, please reach out,” he said. “We are excited about this upcoming year and discovering where this program can go.”  

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