From Scholarship Recipient to Employee

Caitlyn Holt was still in high school when she fell in love with the College of Textiles at NC State University. A scholarship offer “sealed the deal,” paving the way for Holt to come to her dream school, study abroad and make connections that would jumpstart her career.

“Without my scholarship, I really don’t know that I would be where I am today,” said Holt, now a product development manager in International Textile Group’s Cone Denim division.

Holt was awarded the Burlington Scholarship, which heavily influenced her time at NC State. The Greensboro native earned two degrees from the College of Textiles — a bachelor’s in fashion and textile management in 2012 and a master’s in textiles in 2013.

As a student, Holt wrote thank-you notes to her scholarship donor, which happened to be International Textile Group. Those early interactions allowed her to build beneficial relationships within the company.

“The College of Textiles has a scholarship dinner where donors can come and actually have dinner with their scholarship recipient. One year, they sent the guy who works across the hall from me now,” she said. “We still talk about that. It’s just a fun, full-circle kind of moment.”

During her sophomore year, Holt took a study abroad trip to Hong Kong. She reached out to International Textile Group to see if she could visit the company’s office there. The company obliged.

“They were very gracious. They brought me in, gave me a full-line presentation and spent almost a full day with me, between everyone in their office,” Holt said. “It was just a great introduction to the company, to be able to see that from an international perspective and to get that real industry experience while abroad.”

That wasn’t Holt’s only international experience as an NC State student. She also traveled to Peru with the College of Textiles’ Doing Business Internationally program to learn about the textile industry in the South American nation.

“My international experience definitely made me want to work for a company that had an international presence. I love the global feel,” she said. “Cone has manufacturing in Mexico, China and the U.S. It really is the best of all worlds because I get to work with people in other countries and in our plant that is right down the road. It’s just really fun to see the differences in the sourcing strategies of our customers and then to see the difference in the products that we make around the world.”

So how did Holt end up working for the company that supported her scholarship? It started as an internship, after she once again reached out to International Textile Group following her study abroad trip to Hong Kong. Holt spent the next two summers interning at the company’s Greensboro headquarters.

“The summer after I graduated with my master’s, they hired me full time and that’s where I am today,” she said. “It’s the only place I’ve ever worked. I came home from the first day of my internship and told my mom I could see myself working for Cone forever. It really just fit. It was a great feeling.”

Holt said her “heart is in Raleigh.” She’s a loyal Wolfpack fan and comes back to campus for career fairs to meet students for her company. She also gives to the College of Textiles.

“That support was so important for me and for my parents and family. Coming out of school with that much less debt was just so integral in my future. It’s just a great feeling to know that people are investing in you.”

Holt said private support has made the college the “No. 1 textile school in the world,” and continued support will only lead to more innovation and opportunity.

“We have all kinds of equipment and testing labs at NC State; we have the PyroMan. It’s just crazy how much technology is in those four buildings on Centennial Campus,” she said. “Our company partners with the college to do testing, and we hire student interns for the summer. It’s just a great resource for the industry as well, and I see that continuing through private support.”