Exit Interview: Sarah Casey

How the Arkansas Fellowship Challenged Me

I hope you’re reading this because you’re thinking of applying for the Arkansas Fellowship or just interested in learning more about the program. First, glad you’re here. You’re way ahead of all the other students who hope an opportunity will just fall into their lap after graduation, and that’s a great start.

When I was entering my Senior year of college I wasn’t sure what the future held for me either. All I knew was I wanted to do something that would challenge me and provide an opportunity to grow my career at an accelerated rate. Looking back over the past two years this program did just that.

A Second Look at Arkansas

For most of high school my life was the classic “small town boredom” trope. I could not wait to go to college, graduate, and get a job in New York City, or some other metropolitan city. I was planning on leaving Arkansas in the dust. When I was exploring post-grad opportunities the Arkansas Fellowship program came up, and honestly I had mixed feelings.

What I had considered to be an anti-tech state seemed to have a booming startup scene I wasn’t aware of. Going through the application, and interview process was so very eye opening. I met with Arkansas based companies who were invested in developing the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders in the state.

I was challenged to take a second look at Arkansas, and I’m so very glad I did.

Like Minded Crew  

After being accepted I had the opportunity to meet other Fellows who were apart of the program. Let me tell you, this crew is amazing.

Making the transition from college to the “real world” is an eventful and somewhat daunting experience. At the time, it was reassuring to trade experiences with others who were doing the exact same thing – sharing stories about what apartments NOT to live in, what restaurants we LOVE, and new experiences with our host companies.

Hanging out with this like-minded group, made me feel like I had an instant crew of friends in my new town.

More Than an Entry Level Job

From the very beginning, the Fellowship program was more than just an avenue for a job. I had the opportunity to stand out from other “new hires” with my Fellowship exposure. Not only did I get a great start at my host company, I had the opportunity to build a network of peers through professional development experiences sponsored by the Fellowship.

There are so many experiences and connections that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I know I made the best decision to hang around Arkansas and give this a try. New York City is just going to have to wait.