Marketing student Annie Hunter. Photo by Andy Santos for Virginia Tech.
Marketing student Annie Hunter. Photo by Andy Santos for Virginia Tech.

Like many high school students with college on the horizon, Annie Hunter was looking for a school that was the perfect fit for the next step in her academic journey. Graduating at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hunter was cautious as the world she knew dramatically changed around her. However, despite the circumstances, one thing was certain: she would be attending Virginia Tech. 

Before the lockdown, Hunter toured the Blacksburg campus and knew that she had found her home. She was looking for a school that offered a strong sense of community, something she felt with every student and faculty member she encountered that day. 

“Compared to other colleges, I found that students at Virginia Tech are much more connected to the school,” Hunter said. “Experiencing the kindness on campus and seeing the sea of maroon and orange hoodies, I could tell I would feel at home at Virginia Tech. I love the Hokie pride we have.” 

With her bags packed and plenty of masks on hand, she officially settled into her dorm in August 2020. Even though the pandemic brought along uncertainty and made for an unusual freshman experience, Hunter confidently made her way and began to grow her roots in the Hokie community. 

As a student at Pamplin College of Business, Hunter was certain she wanted to study in the Marketing Department. During her senior year of high school, Hunter established a successful jewelry business on the e-commerce platform Etsy, which allowed her to explore various facets of marketing. This experience solidified her desire to grow as a marketer and become involved with various marketing organizations on campus. 

“I love marketing because it allows me to be creative and strategic,” she said.

I found that marketing brought my strengths and interests together. What excited me the most was that every industry needs marketers, so my opportunities are limitless.” 

Hitting the ground running, she immediately began expanding her network, forming an important connection with Donna Wertalik, professor of practice in the Marketing Department. Hunter was enrolled in Wertalik’s Careers in Marketing course, which allowed her to not only grow as a professional but also cultivate a lasting connection with Wertalik. 

It was around this time that Hunter secured an internship opportunity with the Blacksburg Museum and Cultural Foundation. Wanting to further bolster her marketing skills as she completed her internship, Hunter reached out to Wertalik, who offered her the opportunity to complete a field practicum based on her internship experience. 

This chance harmoniously connected all her responsibilities as an intern. As she completed both the field practicum and internship, Wertalik served as a beacon of support and knowledge who provided Hunter with direction and advice in creating a successful social media strategy for the museum. 

During her first year, Hunter received the Marketing Advisory Board Marketing Excellence scholarship, which is awarded to students who have demonstrated outstanding potential in the field of marketing and have contributed to the success of the Marketing Department. 

Receiving the award ignited in Hunter the Virginia Tech motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), and inspired her to give back to the Marketing Department. She did so by joining the Junior Marketing Advisory Board (JMAB), a collection of passionate marketing students who serve as ambassadors for the department while also working closely with the Marketing Advisory Board, the department’s alumni advisory group, to help provide students studying marketing with the best experience. 

Hunter would ultimately serve as president during her senior year. 

“My experience as president of JMAB was amazing,” she said. “I helped marketing students find their path by connecting them to the department’s various resources and opportunities. I enjoyed giving back to Hokies, especially after I had received so much support from Hokie Nation.”

Hunter joined PRISM, a faculty-led student-run marketing organization, during her sophomore year.

She began as an account executive and content creator for PRISM client First & Main, a shopping center located in Blacksburg, and later served as an account manager for Pamplin’s admissions team. Currently, Hunter is the account manager for Phyte4Food, a PRISM client aiming to build awareness about the phosphorus crisis threatening global food security. 

“PRISM has been one of my favorite experiences,” she added. “The real-world experience and skills are a game changer in propelling my career forward. I will always cherish the memories and friendships from PRISM.” 

It was through a PRISM connection that Hunter secured an internship which ultimately led to a full-time job offer. During the spring of her junior year, Hunter traveled to Richmond with PRISM, where the team had the opportunity to visit with different alumni and companies, including Altria. After connecting with past PRISM-ites, Hunter was offered an internship position for that summer. 

“I learned so much during my summer as a brand management intern. It was very hands-on, and I was able to see my ideas come to life,” she said. “The array of careers I can have as a marketer at Altria inspired me. I realized I can have the career I have been searching for at Altria.”

While Hunter bittersweetly looks back at her joyful memories and experiences that have placed her where she is today, there is much to look forward to on the horizon. As well as joining the Altria team full-time in February 2024 as a brand analyst, Hunter is planning to be wed to her high school sweetheart in the spring.

“Annie has always been a leader, a communicator, and a solution-based individual,” said Wertalik of her student. “She is a self-starter, one of the kindest Hokies I know, and has left a legacy in PRISM as well as the Junior Marketing Advisory Board. I know I will be forever connected to Annie and continue to see her soar and be there every step of the way.”

Hunter will enter a new chapter upon her graduation in December, the beginning of many endeavors for her. However, that first step will always be made of Hokie Stone.

Written by Bella Shapiro