GUWIL Hoya Spotlight – Dana Mitchell

BIO: Originally hailing from Ohio, Dana is a senior in the MSB double majoring in International Business and Management. After starting out her Corp career at Vittles, Dana has since shifted her focus, taking on the role of Director at The Corp’s new service, Hilltoss in addition to her responsibilities at Vittles.

Q: How did you choose your major double major in IB and Management?
I’m not a math person. I’ve always been interested in social sciences and how they work within the business world. I entered the business school completely unaware of my major – I knew I liked business because I think it’s cool that you can create something out of nothing to provide a service or product for someone and somehow make their life better or improve their day. It’s cool that you can build a livelihood from that. Throughout business school, I found that the project I always wanted to work on or the task in the group case that I wanted was the people – the HR – part. After taking a few HR-centered courses through the MSB I knew that was my passion. Reading and coursework didn’t feel like coursework – and I was genuinely intrigued to learn of the solutions.

Q: Tell us about the two internships you’ve had while at Georgetown.
Since coming to Georgetown I’ve had two internships. My first internship was at the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation here in Washington, DC, with the Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC). My work there was two-fold: research and event planning. I helped compile a stakeholder analysis that was eventually published by the Center and distributed at their annual CSR conference to many fortune-500 companies. I also worked on planning the conference and later staffed it – an awesome experience learning about what specific programs companies are implementing to be sustainable and make a social impact. My second internship was this past summer in New York City with Deloitte Consulting LLP. I interned in the commercial space working on human capital projects – my career passion like I talked about above. I will be returning as a Human Capital consulting analyst with Deloitte in NYC next year.

Q: What did you do standout when applying for your internships?
Tough question – everyone here at Georgetown has so much to offer. In a nutshell: convey my passion. My biggest goal was to communicate to my evaluators (both application and interview) why I wantedto be there and what in my past experience exemplified these internal passions. In the end, I have a personal zeal for human resources – I am fascinated by the people issues (ie: retention, motivation, etc.,) in business and how they affect operations, productivity, financials, etc. Luckily, my experience with The Corp afforded me this career passion realization. Working for a student-run business enabled me to gain a little experience in almost every area of business possible: operations, finance, personnel, marketing, etc. Through my various experiences there, I learned what topics, events, or issues, got my eyes to light up – almost every time it was the people side of what we do. My mission in the interview was to show this and explain how it would be specifically applicable to their business.

Q: How did you prep for your interview?
Practice and a little soul-searching. Consulting firms require case interviews – I found practice examples online, spoke with current practitioners, and read guide books. For interviews that were more behavioral, I tried to frame my interests in the context of what my interview does on a daily basis and make examples tangible and extremely specific. I thought through a variety of questions and made lots of scribbled napkin-lists: Why did I apply for this job? What do I like about it; what do I want out of it? Do I like this organization’s culture; would I fit in? Finally, when giving any personal or experiential examples, I focused on results – what I did specifically to improve or organize something, and what the precise, quantifiable impact was. When I walked into the interview, I wanted to leave with the mindset that I had given it my very best and conveyed who I am as accurately as I could. If they didn’t like me, maybe it wasn’t the right fit in the first place! Also, I worked out or practice yoga just before. Gotta get that nervous energy out somehow!

Q: How does your work with The Corp compare with internships? Tell us about Hilltoss!
I think my work with The Corp is quite comparable. I was hired to Vital Vittles my Freshman year then rose through the ranks year by year – purchasing produce for the grocery store as a sophomore, organizing personnel planning for the new Corp storefront, The Hilltoss, then becoming Director of that storefront a year later. In my three years working at The Corp, I’ve seen the entire process of building a business – from an idea in a CEO’s brain (Hi Mike West) to bringing the store to actual fruition this past November. My junior year, I was in charge of planning everything regarding personnel for the store before it actually opened – how many people did we need to hire? What was our schedule like? How did we staff people // what did they work on each day? What was our culture going to be? How does wage expense factor into our business financials? While I was doing that, I served under my predecessor (Hi Ellen) and with an ops guy (the current general manager) and a purchaser (a current co-director of marketing). Planning the store was difficult without a physical storefront in front of us – but this year, I run a team of 8 people, including my successor, who each manage a different part of the store: from purchasing to marketing to finance and more! Opening a business was the most difficult and time-intensive but most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. How did I balance it? That was the original question – my advice is this. If you don’t absolutely head-over-heels I’ll-drown-myself-in-the-Potomac-without-you love it, don’t do it. Keep searching until you find it. I put in the long hours because I have a genuine passion for what I do – I love walking in every day and seeing our employees smiling at customers, tossing salads, and prepping ingredients. I love what my job has enabled other Hoyas to do – not only earn a wage, but also find a place on campus where they belong, can learn something new, and are loved.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge you faced in the workplace and how did you overcome it?
Managing a team of completely different people – some of whom have completely different reasoning and thinking styles than I do. It’s hard to come a decision or complete a task quickly when you can’t see eye to eye or someone completely does not agree with your decision. Or has to re-do something they’ve already done to make it better. Or stay overnight when the fridge breaks and the mechanic comes at 3am. That’s when it gets sticky and you learn who you’re really working with. There’s no real answer to this – but I find that when you give people the change to pipe up and actually listen to what they say, you really can find the best path. Compromise and prioritize.

 Q: What advice would you give to someone who was interested in the same field? To a freshman?
Like I said before – find something on campus you love doing. It might seem like busy work at first, but it gets better really fast. For me, it’s people, a whiff of entrepreneurship, and food, so I wound my way through The Corp until I found The Hilltoss. There are so many things to do at Georgetown – take advantage while you’re here! Once you find what you love, figure out what’s wrong with it. Do your best to fix it, improve it – not just sustain it for the next person. That’s the most rewarding part of what I do with The Hilltoss – now that The Corp is growing, we are able to provide jobs to more students. The Corp was the best experience I’ve had in my life – let alone at Georgetown – and I’m utterly ecstatic that my work has enabled other students to pursue the incredible opportunity I was given.

Q: How has your Georgetown education thus far prepared you for your future?
Georgetown is an environment of self-starters, initiative-takers, and people who care. People who have passions and actually pursue them. We are not a culture of couch potatoes, to say the least. That’s one of my favorite parts of being a Hoya – at all times I’m surrounded by inspiration. All you have to do is ask the question – what do you do? This has prepared me for my career in two ways – one, learning how to be decent at smalltalk. Definitely an underrated skill. Two: I’d like to think I’ve absorbed some of the entrepreneurial spirit that bleeds from this campus. In terms of applicability to the real world, it’s the single most valuable thing I used this summer at my internship, and the most common element I noticed in fast-trackers.

Q: What’s the best piece of professional or career advice you’ve ever received?
Be curious. Be curious about what’s happening in your field, your industry, your colleagues, and your peers. Knowing what’s going on in the world and current events are table-stakes – being genuinely interested in the person sitting next to you is how you learn how to be better at what you do.

Check out Dana’s answers to the GUWIL Quiz!