Two remarkable qualities of a Hollins education are the opportunities for real-world experience that alumnae champion for current undergraduates, and the wide range of study abroad options that the university fosters around the globe.
Throughout this academic year, Liza Davis ’19 is enjoying the best of both worlds. The double-major in communication studies and French is living in Paris and interning with Imerys Carbonates, an international company that mines, transforms, and creates functional minerals for a variety of applications from plastics, paints, and film to pharmaceuticals and even calcium fortifications for orange juice and toothpaste. Davis’s internship doesn’t consist of menial tasks: She serves as the manager and content creator for an important social media campaign called “History Rocks in Paris.”
“Our main goal is to show some of the many places where you can find carbonates in Paris,” Davis explains. “Carbonates are minerals found in the earth and three of the most common forms that Imerys works with are marble, chalk, and limestone.
“Paris has tons of carbonates. For example, there are thousands of marble statues and buildings and there are also limestone tunnels that crisscross the whole city. Minerals are a difficult product to make relatable to regular people, so what better way to make carbonates interesting than to talk about them in relation to Paris.”
The catalyst behind Davis’s internship is Lauren Dale ’09, who serves as a global communications strategist for Imerys. She transferred to the company’s Paris headquarters nearly two years ago after working in Imerys’s Atlanta office for two and a half years.
“As the beneficiary of two competitive J-term internships hosted by alumnae, I have always been open to having a Hollins student as an intern,” she says. “I know the educational culture from which a Hollins woman is grown. My liberal arts degrees (she double-majored in communication studies and theatre) really rounded out my thinking process and Hollins gave me the courage to take risks – something that has paid off in my career. I would take a Hollins intern or employee in a heartbeat.”
Davis is specifically creating, delivering, and managing Instagram content around the “History Rocks” concept. “She is actively contributing to the development of this new (to our business) communications platform and campaign by developing the campaign overview, target subjects and content, hashtags and audience connection mechanisms, and of course, helping track the analytics,” Dale says. “In addition, she is working on a couple of other projects during her internship, adding ideas and providing support for some of our new engagements with her fresh young eyes. She is also, of course, bringing some American female diversity to a very French, masculine company!”
“I have done research on everything from who’s buried in the Pantheon to what kind of sealants hold the windows together in the Louis Vuitton Foundation,” Davis adds. “I’ve also looked at how social media campaigns can benefit companies like Imerys Carbonates. I am so excited about this campaign.”
Davis’s enthusiasm extends to the way of living she’s discovered in Paris. “This city constantly surprises me. Some of the stereotypes are true: French people do walk down the street carrying four or more baguettes at once! But others are false, such as the notion that Parisians aren’t friendly. One of the most striking things about these people, and something that really reminds me of Hollins, is the profound depth of their relationships. The French believe in truly meaningful bonds that last lifetimes, and it has touched me deeply to see the same kind of strong connections that I have found at Hollins in a city as big as Paris.”
Davis is quick to express her gratitude to Dale. “Being in this position for a longer time has allowed me to settle into a work routine and handle more long-term projects. I’ve been able to see what goes into the life of someone working internationally in the communications field, and that alone has been incredibly valuable for me. I’ve also been able to see the real-world applications of what I am studying, and that gives me guidance in my work at Hollins. I am so lucky to know that I will be walking away from this internship with projects done that I am proud of and that I can use in the future, and that’s all thanks to Lauren. On my first day, she sat down with me to make sure that I was going to get what I wanted out of this internship. Working with someone like her has definitely shown me the importance of taking initiative and helping others see the value in my work.”
In an interesting postscript, Dale shares that Hollins’s ties with the work of Imerys Carbonates go beyond her employment and Davis’s internship with the company. “I’m not sure what mineral comprises the Hollins Rock, but all those layers of paint on it probably have carbonates in them. Tinker Mountain, which we of course hike up on Tinker Day, is made of limestone. And Hollins sits on the Athens Shale, a blue-black limestone deposit that dates back 250 million years.
“Hollins women have been learning and creating history alongside our very own calcium carbonates for years!”
To see Davis’s work on the History Rocks in Paris campaign, visit @imeryscarbonates on Instagram.