It is easy to feel the Penn State spirit when you walk through the doors of Kforce, Inc., in Washington, D.C. Since graduating from the University in 1991, Kye Mitchell, Chief Operating Officer for the East Region of Kforce, has made it her mission to give back by recruiting student interns and hiring recent graduates.
A General Arts and Sciences graduate, Kye entered the field of information technology consulting and eventually launched her own business, VistaRMS, winning national recognition. In 2005, her firm was acquired by Kforce Professional Staffing, a national professional staffing firm for the technology, finance, clinical research, healthcare, and government sectors. Today, Kye leads the technology and finance, and accounting staffing services to businesses and clients serving federal agencies in the East Region.
Throughout her career, Kye has never forgotten the struggle of trying to attract employers as a liberal arts graduate. “Recruiters wanted students with technical or business backgrounds. They wouldn’t even consider or pursue liberal arts students,” she recalls.
Being an entrepreneur, like Kye, requires business skills, of course, but equally important are the liberal arts strengths of critical thinking, creativity, and a well-rounded education. “My successes in business have been a result of my experiences as a liberal arts student,” she says.
Being a mentor to Liberal Arts students through various programs has been one way for Kye to share that knowledge and give back to the University. She also sponsors internships and visits from members of a Penn State service-oriented sorority. Kye and her husband Scott are helping Penn State students with scholarships they created in the College of the Liberal Arts, one for undergraduate students and the other for graduate students.
One of her favorite stories is about a scholarship recipient who experienced major personal challenges before entering Penn State. Kye enjoyed getting to know the student and later, offered her a job at the company. She even attended the mentee’s wedding years later.
“College is the one time in your life where you can study what you’re passionate about. For me it was literature and English,” Kye recalls. “I had the opportunity to discuss the classics and my favorite authors with other students and professors who were just as passionate as I was. That’s what I want for current students.”
In her conversations with Penn State students, Kye constantly emphasizes the importance of networking with alumni. One recommendation she makes is to read the best-selling book, Lean In, by Facebook Chief Operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, who teaches the importance of breaking down barriers by striving for and achieving leadership roles.
In a similar vein, Kye advises students to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible: “Don’t wait to be asked to take a seat at the table. Raise your hand and ask for a seat at the table. Take the tough projects and follow through.”