Campus Alamance interns explore career paths at Alamance Chamber discussion

Alamance Chamber of Commerce President and CEO led a discussion with Cone Health executive Mark Gordon and Alliance MOCVD co-founder Sara Cloud during a visit to the headquarters of global textile company Glen Raven.

Elon students in the university’s Campus Alamance internship initiative gained insights into career preparation and development during a discussion Tuesday hosted by the Alamance Chamber of Commerce at Glen Raven, a global textile manufacturer based near Elon’s campus.

Mark Gordon with Cone Health offers remarks during a discussion with the Campus Alamance cohort on Tuesday, June 25, at Glen Raven moderated by Reagan Gural with the Alamance Chamber of Commerce, left, and Sara Cloud with Alliance MOCVD.

Joining moderator Reagan Gural, who serves as president and CEO of the Alamance Chamber, were Mark Gordon, a senior vice president and regional president for Greensboro-based Cone Health, and Sara Cloud, co-founder and chief financial and administrative officer for Alliance MOCVD, a manufacturer within the compound semiconductor industry. Gordon and Cloud shared about their own career paths, and what they now look for in job candidates when adding members to their teams.

“You never know where opportunities are going to come from,” Cloud told the nearly 50 members of this year’s Campus Alamance cohort.

She shared about her career that has included working at a ski resort after high school, serving in the U.S. Marines, working in New York City in corporate finance after graduating from college, returning to school to become a teacher and now helping guide Alliance MOCVD, which produces products that have been used in the International Space Station, the Mars Rover and in military applications.

“I have a very nonlinear path and I used to feel self-conscious about that,” she said. “Now I know being this far down my road that my nonlinear path and my varied experience in the corporate, education and business worlds — it’s my biggest strength.”

Members of the 2024 Campus Alamance cohort listen to panelists during a discussion at Glen Raven on June 25 about career development.

Now in its fourth year, Campus Alamance pairs Elon students with local nonprofit organizations, government entities and businesses for summer internships that help them gain valuable experience while supporting the local community. Funded by the university and led by the Student Professional Development Center with support from the Kernodle Center for Civic Life, the program pays participating students a stipend for the eight-week internship that is coupled with group activities like this week’s discussion at Glen Raven that are designed to help them build their professional skillsets and work on career planning.

This year’s cohort has the theme of “Campus Alamance Contributes” to focus attention on the role of becoming a contributing member of an organization’s team. Since students began the program on June 3, they have had group sessions focused on workplace expectations and competencies that are needed in all work contexts. Weekly professional development sessions have utilized the “Facilitating Integration and Reflection of the Elon Experiences (FIRE2) Toolkit” to help students reflect on their internship experiences. Sessions like the one at Glen Raven are designed to encourage students to consider their career paths and how they can position themselves to succeed.

Mark Gordon with Cone Health offers remarks during a discussion with the Campus Alamance cohort on Tuesday, June 25, at Glen Raven moderated by Reagan Gural with the Alamance Chamber of Commerce, left, and Sara Cloud with Alliance MOCVD .

Gordon pointed to his family’s emphasis on community and early experiences in the health care world as laying the groundwork for his career in the sector.

“It came from my nature of having grown up in a family that liked to impact community,” said Gordon, who leads Alamance Regional Medical Center in Burlington and Annie Penn Hospital in Reidsville. “What I’m doing today, I’m passionate about. You’re going to have to get clear about why you get out of bed every day and go to work.”

As he works to recruit physicians to the Rockingham County communities served by Annie Penn Hospital, Gordon ensures that they realize how they can impact the lives of local residents and can build something that they have a sense of ownership about. “Part of my job is to get people to understand the gem that is in your own back yard,” Gordon said.

Sara Cloud with Alliance MOCVD offers remarks during a discussion with members of Campus Alamance on Tuesday, June 25, at Glen Raven moderated by Reagan Gural with the Alamance Chamber of Commerce, left, and Mark Gordon with Cone Health.

Gural echoed that sentiment, telling the students that Alamance County has a wide variety of opportunities for students right after they graduate or later in their careers as they continue to develop. “We want you to find, if you choose to, opportunities here in Alamance County,” Gural said.

Cloud said she believes advanced manufacturing in particular will continue to flourish in Alamance County, at companies like hers as well as companies like Glen Raven, which has a history dating back to the 19th century. Cloud moved from Durham to Alamance County in part because of the quality of life here and where it is positioned in the state.

“When we are trying to attract employees, North Carolina and Alamance County provide the whole package to support the work experience and your life outside of work,” Cloud said.

Gordon encouraged the students to try new things and broaden their experiences both during college and as they begin their careers. “I would encourage you to take on one challenge every day,” Gordon said. “If you see something that gives you a little trepidation or a little of anxiety, try it. See if you like it. Dip your toe in the water. See what you learn.”