Brette Powell ’18 MBA believes in signs. When she met a stranger on a plane who told her to look into UNC Greensboro’s Bryan School of Business and Economics MBA program, she listened.
Now, the 2018 graduate wakes up every day and swipes a badge granting her access to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, where she assists the finance team in managing the budget for one of the most powerful buildings in the country – The White House.
In 2014, the Lewisville, North Carolina native was fresh out of Appalachian State University with a degree in electronic media broadcasting, and working as an educational leadership consultant for Delta Zeta sorority. She was headed from Nashville to Texas for work when she sat next to a fellow consultant who happened to be from Kernersville and knew the UNCG program well.
Powell looked into other programs, but she kept coming back to UNCG because it was close to home.
“I firmly believe that to stay a part of something, you have to have people and purpose,” said Powell, a recipient of UNCG’s Orrell Scholarship. “I found my people in the MBA program.”
Jumping into a business program with zero business experience proved to be quite a challenge, but Powell credits UNCG professors and fellow classmates for fielding her endless questions and offering support.
It didn’t take long for her to build a business resume. Soon, Powell was meeting with executives from Boeing, Microsoft and Starbucks, as a UNCG representative for the National Millennial Community – a national group of university students who partner with prominent national and global companies to exchange ideas about the millennial generation.
UNCG is the only university in the state of North Carolina with membership in the National Millennial Community, and it gave Powell the exposure that got her to The White House.
The organization’s founder, Bill Imada, who serves on the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, advocated for Powell after she applied for the spring 2018 White House Internship Program. He was impressed by a public service announcement Powell created with the National Millennial Community on cyberbullying, which was circulated to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and The White House.
“Brette, as expected, prepared for this interview for hours,” said Imada in an email to UNCG. “This is just another example of her training and development at UNCG and the strong work ethic that she embodies from her family and advisers.”
Powell was placed in Room 1 – The White House Management Office. She and the team in Room 1 ensure everything stays up and running.
As an intern, she had the rare opportunity to listen to and engage with high-level political officials and members of the media, through asking for advice and receiving feedback.
“The exposure we got as interns was so much more than you would get at the corporate level,” Powell said.
She watched the Marine One helicopter take off from the White House Lawn and shook the President’s hand.
After performing above and beyond expectations as an intern, Powell was offered a full-time job working in the same office.
“Whenever a spring intern is offered a job, that means they made a meaningful contribution (and a strong positive impression) on the career staff at The White House,” Imada said.
Walking through The White House gates each day, Powell said, gives her a feeling of importance and responsibility.
“You are truly a public servant,” Powell said. “It isn’t just a job or internship. It’s an overwhelming feeling of responsibility not only to my coworkers, but to the American people.”
Story by Elizabeth L. Harrison, University Communications
Photography courtesy of Brette Powell