by Mollie Simon
Rising senior Anna Ayers understands money—not just because of her finance and journalism double major but because she has been working and earning money since she was a teenager.
At the beginning of high school, the Pennsylvania native started washing dishes at The Kitchen on Main, a restaurant in her hometown of Ligonier, 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. She continued working at the restaurant during high school and while on breaks as a student at Ohio University, eventually working her way up to prep cook, then line cook, then waitress and then ultimately assistant chef.
While Ayers, now 20, has enjoyed her time working at the restaurant, her goal is to become a business reporter. This summer, she will not be returning to The Kitchen on Main, instead beginning an internship with the Pittsburgh Business Times in June.
But her time in the restaurant continues to influence her. The experience taught her the challenges of living off food service job wages, and she hopes to someday write a book based on notes from her work. The title? “Not Your Grandmother’s Kitchen.”
“After about a day and a half in it, one of my grandmothers would have had a heart attack between the language and craziness in general,” Ayers said of how they would react to the kitchen in which she worked.
As a business reporting intern this summer, Ayers hopes to possibly cover the food industry in addition to sports, for which she has a particular love. She has played basketball since she was 3 years old, including at the club level in college.
“One of the things I really like about business reporting is you can report about sports and the stock market and fashion and food,” Ayers said. “The world operates on money so you can pretty much find a business story in anything.”
In addition to a week of training at New York University through the Dow Jones News Fund, which is sponsoring 10 interns across different American City Business Journals publications, Ayers will bring a practical experience to her position this summer.
Whenever Ohio University releases a budget book of financial information, Ayers pores over the document for a week and advises the student newspaper, The Post, on topics she thinks they should cover.
Equally as eager to talk about her magazine writing class as she is to discuss her recent course analyzing financial statements and applying calculus, Ayers is unique among students in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and Ohio University College of Business.
Her cross-section of skills has been recognized by professors. While many business students struggle to write emails that do not read like text messages, Ayers always has excellent communication skills, Chauncey Joyce, who taught Ayers in a series of three project-based finance classes, said.
Ayers is also humble, her business reporting professor Nerissa Young said. “Although she is intelligent, she does not flaunt it, and she quickly helps others try to understand,” Young said. “Anna is equally gifted in her left and right brain to do math and write well.”
Ayers knows how to work collaboratively with other students, having invested time as a representative to the student government on the LGBTQA Affairs and Senate Appropriations Commissions. For the past year, she was the chairperson of the Internal Budget Committee for the Ohio University Student Senate, a job which involved managing a $500,000 allocation from the university for use by student organizations.
“I have absolutely loved being in student senate,” Ayers said. “All the people are really invested in making OU a better place.”
Before heading to her summer training in New York, Ayers spent over 3 weeks traveling in China with her parents and practicing her Mandarin, a language she has been learning since high school.
The trip included hiking along the Great Wall of China, traveling by bamboo raft, and visiting both major cities like Beijing and Xi’an and rural areas.
“I would speak to people in the shops and the fact that I knew any Chinese really floored them,” she said.
While Ayers has traveled across the globe, she would not want to live abroad permanently. But someday she hopes to return to China or Hong Kong as a business reporter.