MF 188 : Anna Fitzgibbon on Helping Farms and Students Move Forward Together
Anna Fitzgibbon is the founder of Outgrowth, a company that partners students with local farms for internships and externships. Today, Anna will share how she connected the dots between her love of travel and a market need.
Successes at a glance:
Entrepreneur and founder of Outgrowth
Anna graduated from college in 2006 and decided to start her post-collegiate life by traveling. She got a working holiday visa and the plan was to take a year to travel to New Zealand and then come back home to figure things out. However, one year turned into five and one country turned into 25! Afterward, Anna came back home with the intent of entering the job market. She discovered that it was very difficult for her to get hired, even in an entry-level position. She eventually got hired by Johns Hopkins where she worked for five years but even then she had the inkling that she wanted to start her own business. At the time she didn’t know what that would look like but having traveled, Anna hit upon something: she loved adventure and experiential learning. Anna went back to school and got her MBA, also at Johns Hopkins. During this time, she started connecting the dots by getting involved with small businesses and discovering their needs. Anna began connecting students to small businesses to help them grow while giving those students some experiential learning. During this time, she stumbled upon a small farm that needed help with marketing and business development. That was Anna’s aha moment. She decided to start niching with farms; connecting them with students. Flash forward to today, Anna is in her pilot year and has forged partnerships with several farms and 10 different universities. As of June, Anna has launched a pilot program with two students who are living on farms, helping them with everything from social media to business development, while earning credit.
Anna’s big why:
Anna is passionate about creating experiential learning opportunities for students. Anna believes this will help prepare students for the working world and provide them with more options to consider for their futures. On the flipside, Anna wants to help farms grow and thrive by providing them with an influx of talent and skills that they may not otherwise have easy access to.
Biggest challenge today:
Anna’s model is a brand new concept blending ideas from traditional internships, volunteer work, and work-study programs. As Anna shares, any new concept will have a lot of challenges including buy-in from the marketplace.
Moving forward past that challenge:
Three major things that Anna does to move forward:
Put in the time to speak in front of groups and write about it – spark conversations about Outgrowth’s mission.
Continually do the research to be responsive from the market rather than straying towards what she wants the business to look like.
Persevering: keep getting up, an important lesson she learned in her travels.
Anna’s advice for students who are struggling to find internship and externship opportunities:
Only you are in control of your professional development: talk to small businesses or non-profit orgs and see where the needs are. Seek out the project-based learning opportunities. Just start doing.
Favorite tech tool or productivity practice:
Blinkist: distills books to essentials; a great tool for constant learning on the go.
Small choice or activity to move forward:
Travel: take the time and go away, see how people live and reconnect with nature, read and write new content.
Start Moving Forward with Audible and two free audiobooks:
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Who is Anna in five years:
Anna will have made the business stronger and will be making an impact on students and farms on a larger scale. Anna will also continue to travel and learn.
“My number one bit of advice that I have always lived by is that when you have tapped into something that you love, you have to really listen closely to it. Whether or not you know, now, it’s something you can do professionally or make money off of it, hang on to that and really listen to it because inevitably no matter what you do, you’re going to run into a long list of problems and reasons not to do it and expenses and naysayers and it’s often going to seem impossible … do it anyway because the doing it anyway is what will continually set you apart in life and doing it anyway is the scariest and most wonderful thing in the world.”