Hannah Lolita Nelsonm '16

Hannah Lolita NelsonmMajor: Dance Performance
Hometown: Caribou, ME

Describe your current job role:

I’m the Communications Coordinator at Adopt-A-Family, a nonprofit focused on helping homeless families or families on the brink of homelessness find stability and self-sufficiency by providing access to all-encompassing services. My role is to help share the story of Adopt-A-Family in an inspiring and informative way across a variety of mediums. I manage all social media accounts for the organization – I create, organize, and schedule all content with a big focus on storytelling. Additionally, I facilitate in writing various newsletters, emails, annual reports and mailer reports. Along with the content-driven aspect, I also maintain donor relations and assist/manage various company events throughout the fiscal year. 

What professional experience(s) did you have prior to your current job role?

I’ve been fortunate enough to have a wide variety of professional experiences that have led me to where I am today. I had two incredible internships while at PBA - one at The Kravis Center for the Performing Arts and one with the nonprofit, The Dancers’ Space. They both really helped to broaden my knowledge and allow me to explore areas that I hadn’t necessarily considered pursuing during my first years of my undergrad studies. PBA also offered a class on Writing and Publication that I enrolled in and, through that, I learned how to write for a professional audience and gained the skills and tactics needed to have my written works published. I successfully had ten of my works published throughout the duration of the class. Along with those experiences, I joined a start-up company during my last year at PBA and was able to work in almost every department of the company, finally landing in the Customer Experience Manager role. I assisted in building out the department, creating the company handbook and guideline documentation, and bringing the department into the forefront of the company’s business demographic. The combination of those experiences in nonprofit work, business development, and written communications helped prepare me to be successful in my role at Adopt-A-Family.

What do you know now that you wish you had known about being a working professional?

The biggest thing that I know now about being a working professional is that it’s okay to not have all the answers. Being a working professional, I always thought I would need to “know” everything before getting to that place. But now, I realize that it’s okay, and even sometimes better, to not have all of the answers because it leaves room to learn and grow. 

"...always be open="open" to new opportunities, even if they don't seem like they fit into your idea of where your life is 'supposed' to go."

How did PBA prepare you for the world of work?

My life has been more of an adventure since I started being open="open" to new opportunities, and PBA had a big part in giving me the confidence to face those unknowns with determination and excitement. My professors at PBA constantly pushed me to work harder than what I thought I could do, to reach beyond my limits, and to achieve every goal set in front of me. On the flip side though, they were always there to support me when I fell short and needed the extra help to figure out a different way that would ultimately work better for me. That level of personalized attention from my professors gave me the confidence to face any situation that life has thrown at me thus far.

What advice would you give to current PBA students and/or young alumni who are about to start their first professional full-time job?

My background at PBA was in Dance Performance and Creative Writing, a somewhat far cry from what I’m doing now. The biggest thing that I would advise is to always be open="open" to new opportunities, even if they don’t seem like they fit into your idea of where your life is “supposed” to go. I think as college students, we paint these ideal pictures in our heads of what our lives will be once we graduate, and often times when certain things don’t line up with those ideals, we are hesitant to accept them. More than likely, you’re not going to get the “dream job” right out of college, and that’s okay! Be open="open" to what you will learn from the jobs and experiences that you do have and use those as the building blocks to keep working towards your dreams. 

Have you been mentored by anyone in your professional field since entering the workforce? If so, what impact has that had on you? 

I had a woman who came into my life and “unofficially” took me under her wing and became my mentor. She and I got connected through one of my earlier jobs right out of college, and the impact she had on my professional and personal life has been incredible. As a strong, independent, and successful business woman, she has instilled so much knowledge into me and has always been an open="open" and honest support system. I learned a great deal from her advice, but also simply from observing her and watching how she handled business endeavors and interacted within that world. I still go to her, to this day, for advice and encouragement. She pushed me to see my own self-worth and to face every challenge as an opportunity to learn and better myself.

Spotlight posted in April 2018. For more information about Hannah, visit her LinkedIn page.