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Meet Laura!

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It’s always better to give than to receive

Lots of big companies have a foundation. A foundation donates corporate funds to non-profit and charitable organizations. As President of the AT&T Foundation, Laura gives money away for a living. In fact, Girls Inc. Online was created thanks to funding from the AT&T Foundation! Learn more about Laura’s unique career below.

Describe your job. What’s a typical day like for you?

My job is to represent AT&T in the community and to meet with non-profit organizations that help with various community needs, ranging from education to health and human services. I meet with them to understand their projects and programs and to determine if my company should help fund their work.

Did you always see yourself in this field? What was your path to your career like?

When I was growing up, I had no idea that there were jobs where you can give away money. If I had known that, I would have made it my career plan! I pursued a more business-related path and started my career with AT&T. I worked in network services, marketing, advertising, and several different places before finding myself in the foundation.

What are some of your favorite things about your job?

My favorite thing about my job is how much I’ve learned about so many different areas. I’ve learned a lot about education, health and human services, arts, and culture. I also really like knowing that we’re helping people and having a chance to see that the funding [from AT&T] really makes a different in the lives of individual people. I like working for a company that is responsible towards the community, and I am very proud to go out into the community and represent my company.

One of the goals of the AT&T Foundation is to support unique and diverse communities. The foundations funds technology-based projects, including Girls Inc. Online. The AT&T Foundation also launched a program that will deliver high speed Internet connection to low income families. How can technology help a community grow?

I always say that technology helps to build equality. I really do think if we can provide all members of society with the same technology access, we would immediately be in a better place because more and more of information and access to opportunities are found online. A lot of families take for granted that they have home computer access and really can’t imagine it any other way.

What are some everyday ways girls can get excited about technology? How can technology inspire girls to be strong, smart, and bold?

Technology is something that connects us socially and I think that is important. It is something that we can use to make sure we have a good, healthy social life.

From a career perspective, it is increasingly important. All careers these days require basic desktop computer skills, and then, of course, there are many types of technical careers that require knowledge that goes several layers deeper than just an understanding of desktop computer skills.

There was a time when the only way I could communicate with my friends who lived out of town was by mail. Today, the way I keep in touch with those same friends is by email. In my lifetime I’ve seen the way I communicate with people, both professionally and personally, completely become centered around technology.

Girls Inc. Online members are very vocal about their interest in social issues like the environment, women’s rights, and racial equality. Can you talk about how these interests could translate into a job at a foundation or a nonprofit organization? What are the most important ways that girls can prepare for their careers?

The non-profit world is all about addressing societal needs. When I look back, there was an emphasis in my household on making sure that when managing your money, you set aside a good portion to give back to society. When everyone else was trick-or-treating, I was trick-or-treating for UNICEF. The first time that girls will see that [giving back] is important is when they fill out a scholarship application and are asked what they’ve done in the community.

When it’s time to relax, what do you like to do for fun?

That’s a good one! I like to do a lot of different things with my friends from shopping, to going to the movies, to taking trips to the countryside in Texas. I love to travel!

Is there any other advice you’d like to offer girls?

Take every opportunity to be exposed to career options. I spent a lot of my time growing up moving from one thing to another trying to figure out what was the best career path for me. I don’t regret any of my experiences. They have all been really helpful in making my background, experiences, and skills very well rounded. I certainly was not that person who knew from age five that I wanted to be a lawyer or a doctor. It’s important to take advantage of any opportunity to research careers and really figure out what is going to be the best fit.

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