When Rachel Anderson ran for student body president in college, she convinced the man who intended to run against her that it was important to have a female at the top of the ticket. He agreed and took the second spot. They won.
From high school debate to a governmental affairs internship at the Missouri Department of Transportation while attending University of Missouri, Anderson got involved early.
“Opportunity doesn’t always exist, and I’m a big believer in jumping in and doing the best you can,” says Anderson, entrepreneurial specialist at The eFactory, Missouri State University’s entrepreneurship center.
Coupling interests in economic and business development with a belief in the value of higher education, she worked in admissions and then development for MU after graduation in 2008. Recruiting prospective students and connecting with alums allowed Anderson to hone her sales and business development skills.
When the opportunity arose to move to a large city – something she always wanted to do – Anderson headed to Los Angeles in 2011 to work for executive recruiting firm Morgan Samuels. Overlapping that job was Anderson’s work with the University of Missouri Flagship Council, where, among other things, she lobbied for MU.
Also at the same time, Anderson began Alumni Spaces, a tech startup with two MU friends, that offers an online platform for alumni organizations. In 2015, Alumni Spaces participated in the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator in New York City. When Anderson realized the time required of her LA job wasn’t compatible with a startup, she returned to Springfield intending to join her partners in New York. Her hometown had other ideas.
“I had moved back to Springfield and fell in love with the community again,” Anderson says. “What was going on with the entrepreneurial world wasn’t really happening here even five years earlier.”
Her position at The eFactory is a good marriage between her startup experience and her development and marketing background.
“I can talk about having a startup. I know what everyone’s going through,” Anderson says.
She says Springfield is full of people open to great ideas who are willing to help. To capitalize on that and also advocate for women, Anderson co-founded Rosie, a networking and mentoring initiative for businesswomen.
“We really wanted to help extend that social or political capital,” she says.
Returning home has turned out well for Anderson, but she has recreated one aspect of city life she couldn’t leave behind. She lives close to train tracks so it’s not too quiet.
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The 21-year-old is working to graduate in May while cultivating her small business.
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