Who is the most motivated, highly skilled, yet untapped worker in the marketplace? Moms – that’s right – educated women who chose to stay home or disengage from the workplace for a season, but may not know how to reengage. We understand this plight, so in the Fall of 2015 – with great excitement – we launched our very first Moms in Transition program (MIT), providing 3 paid internships to women among this highly motivated group.
Our Theory: Being a great mom is one of the most difficult jobs, requiring great skill in time management, creative problem solving, quick thinking and managing the unexpected. As a marketing agency, we are always in need of hardworking, creative people – moms are the perfect fit! Our internship program includes training time, as well as flexible hours that fit within the school day/calendar. Moms still have the flexibility to do the things at home that are important to them, while being provided with the opportunity to learn new job skills.
Our Goal: We hope to provide our Moms in Transition with “real world” work experience – and then help them transition into the workforce (either working for us or other companies in town). By partnering our qualified interns with a handful of our clients, we create a win-win for everyone!
2017 – 2018 Intern
The daughter of a Hungarian immigrant and a Northeastern artist, Michelle Fitzsimmons was born and raised in rural Northwest Arkansas. Michelle attended the University of Central Arkansas briefly and left to pursue a career in retail business and jewelry design. In 2009 she left the corporate world to engage in business with her mother as she became a stay at home mom to her two sons.
As both children reached school age, Michelle decided she wanted to marry both her creative and corporate experience into a new career. This led her to enroll in a graphic design program. In 2017 Michelle graduated from Northwest Arkansas Community College with an AAS in Graphic Design. The initial step back into the working environment was a daunting one. Michelle had heard from several of her former classmates that The Belford Group offered a unique and flexible internship for mothers reentering the work force.
The Belford Group’s Moms In Transition Internship was a perfect chance for Michelle to continue to learn and work within marketing design and still balance her family life. “The chance to be in a team environment working on a broad variety of projects helped me stretch my new design legs. It is one thing to be creating design work in school, it’s another to be providing it to a client. Team collaboration brings value to the products we are creating for our customers and I am extremely grateful for this experience.” Michelle finds the feedback offered by the team to be invaluable as she broadens her design experience in many areas from web design and digital marketing to print projects. “Feeling supported as an employee, and supported as a mother is a quality of this internship that sets it apart and made it an astoundingly perfect fit for me!”
2016 – 2017 Interns
Jackie has lived in Northwest Arkansas since 2003. She is married with two children, ages 10 and 5. Jackie graduated from the Arkansas Arts Academy where she nurtured her creative side. Always looking for a creative outlet, Jackie started making custom piñatas out of her home so that she could enjoy being a stay-at-home mom. However, she always dreamed of getting a higher education and taking her talent and creativity to a career level. As a young mother, she wanted to be a better example to her children. She also wanted to ensure a better future for her family. That is when she took the giant leap and enrolled at NWACC. After mastering that, another daunting leap was slowly approaching. Having limited work experience, the thought of finding a career in Graphic Design with only school-related experience, was truly nerve-wracking.
Then, she heard about The Belford Group’s Moms In Transition Internship from a friend and fellow classmate, Lauren Schwab. It was exactly what she had been praying for. Jackie has now completed her AAS in Graphic Design and has been in the internship program at TBG for several months. Jackie reflects, “This has been the best choice I could’ve taken for my career and journey as a designer.” TBG has been a positive reinforcement of the ability to balance family life and work life. Jackie expresses, “TBG has helped me grow so much as a designer. Their continued faith and trust in me have helped me to see my potential. They continue to teach me more about brand consistency, web development, working with clients, and taking advantage of the resources out there. The best part of working here is being part of a team. Collaborating on projects and helping each other from beginning to end has truly been a positive experience here.”
A native of Brazil, Taisa Akey has lived in Northwest Arkansas for 15 years with her husband and 4 children. Taisa has spent the last several years marketing her husband’s flourishing chiropractic office while also teaching classes in Zumba and painting. That little taste of marketing bliss aroused Taisa’s need for more. She wanted to learn everything she could about graphic design, branding and social media. That is when she heard about The Belford Group’s Mom internship.
She immediately knew she wanted to apply for the position. Taisa reflects, “I love this program. I have learned so many new skills and also about the industry. It was an answer to a prayer.” Taisa cherishes the fact that she can quench her thirst for new experiences while still having the ability to work around her family’s schedule. Taisa adds, “It’s been a marvelous way to express my creativity and get input from other creative minds.” When asking Taisa about her intern experience she points out that it’s the teamwork that she really enjoys. “I love the way we work together to ensure that we are developing dazzling results for our clients.” She adds, “I also love that I can still spend time with my family and be there for their needs.”
2015 – 2016 Interns
NWA became home to Nancy and her husband in April 1989. Shortly after moving to the Natural State, she worked full-time as a graphic artist with a local printing company, then part-time for a screen printing firm and eventually freelanced from home until 1997 when she was expecting their third child. For nearly 20 years, Nancy has also maintained a successful part-time Pampered Chef business while raising her children. Now she is reaching a new season in her life – life with adult children, ages 23, 21 and 18. Nancy remarks, “I no longer hang my taxi driver sign on my car, nor consider my car my home and my house an annex.”
Nancy learned about the Moms In Transition Internship Program from a Facebook post by her long-time friend Angela Belford, and she immediately knew it was something worth pursuing. Nancy recalls, “It was not an opportunity I had ever dreamt possible and yet it was exactly what I’d prayed for, and then some.” After 6 months as an intern at The Belford Group, Nancy says she has “really enjoyed learning about marketing and the software TBG has developed. The flexible hours, inspiring atmosphere, personal encouragement, and the ability to meet and work with new friends has been an added bonus! ” She is also thankful for the opportunity to put back into practice the use of her fine arts/graphic design degree while learning contemporary graphic design software.
Audra has lived in Northwest Arkansas for 13 years with her husband and four children, ages 16, 14, 11 and 9. For the past 5 years, Audra co-owned a seasonal event business in TX and discovered that she really enjoyed the marketing side of the business (i.e. branding, digital & social media marketing, newsletter writing, project management, etc). She recalls, “I was praying that I would find a part-time job that would grow my marketing and management skills, as well as provide the flexibility to pick up my kids from school and continue homeschooling 2 days/week.”
The Moms in Transition Internship program has proven to be exactly what Audra was looking for – flexible hrs and the opportunity to learn marketing best practices (an area outside her degree). “I have really appreciated Angela’s desire to learn where our natural gifts lie and provide us with opportunities to grow our skills. I love the collaborative process – seeing projects go from brainstorming phase, to vision creation, to telling the client’s story through well-placed content & creative design.” Audra would say that her biggest take-away this year has been learning current trends in web development, content creation, and social media strategy. “There is so much to learn – it’s like drinking water from a fire hydrant. It has been a very valuable experience!”
Shauna moved to Northwest AR from New Orleans in 2014, along with her three children, ages 12, 10 and 8. Shauna previously worked in university development at Tulane University; but upon her move, decided on a career change to graphic design. She is currently a full-time student at NWACC, on track to graduate in May 2017.
When Shauna first learned about the Moms In Transition Internship program online, she was intrigued by the opportunity to receive real world experience in her new career pursuit of graphic design – an opportunity not typically available to former stay-at-home moms. Now 6 months into the internship, the most valuable thing Shauna has learned is how to be successful at a marketing firm and the expectations therein. Shauna remarks, “I have increased my skills in creating marketing materials and web design. I am also learning the finer points of being an account rep and garnering new business.”