Last month, Arkansas Fellows from across the state spent the weekend in Heber Springs. When most Arkansans think of the lake town, they think of afternoons on the boat and relaxed evenings around the grill. While that was certainly a part of the weekend, we spent a sizable part of our time planning what the Arkansas Fellowship will look like for the next six months.
When I was recruited for the program as a junior and senior in college, the Arkansas Fellowship was pitched as an experiential MBA. I think a huge portion of that value comes in the opportunity to direct large portions of the program. Arkansas Fellows choose their own adventure: planning out programming for the year, marketing those experiences to the community, recruiting future classes to choose adventures of their own.
In many ways, I’ve learned as much about marketing from the real practice of coordinating our social media and program advertising as I have from my job at a marketing firm. In the span of a couple of months, I’ve already seen Arkansas Fellows from Class 5 grow in their practical understanding of how an organization markets itself: building out content calendars, organizing video production, learning and executing advanced paid media targeting.
Other twenty-somethings aren’t given that opportunity often, and our employers benefit.
On our retreat, other Arkansas Fellows laid out a path of company tours, conferences and other personal growth opportunities through December, and host companies will see smarter, more creative, problem-solving employees after Fellows attend the Made by Few this fall, tour a potpourri powerhouse this month, hear from TEDx thought leaders in November and understand personal strengths from CliftonStrengths right now. Host companies choose their Arkansas Fellows for some combination of their intangibles and technical skill, then Arkansas Fellows choose their own empowering path of professional experiences with near all expenses paid.
For me, our summer retreat represented not only a lakeside respite with new and old Arkansas Fellowship friends but also a reminder that this program provides me the opportunity to continue learning beyond my degree and my role within my company.
That’s the story we get to tell future generations of potential Arkansas Fellows, and it’s the experience each Arkansas Fellow receives during their first two years out of school.