Our guiding force at Sparq is our mission: to create high-quality technology jobs in Middle America cities where talent is often overlooked. Our Mission in Action showcases Sparq colleagues who represent how this mission impacts individuals and the communities in which we operate.
Growing up in Augusta, Georgia, technology wasn’t exactly Ashley “Sam” Smith’s dream job. She said, “My parents and grandparents always wanted me to be a nurse, and I guess that kind of stuck through high school and some of my college years.” It wasn’t until an aptitude test and college internship at Sparq that made Sam discover that her career could still involve helping people, just in a different way than she had imagined.
A game changer
After graduating high school, Sam enrolled in the Army National Guard because she really wanted the chance to serve her country, while also being able to pursue her college degree. After completing basic training, she was assigned to a communications unit and enrolled in college. Although she worked alongside Soldiers working on their up-armored IT equipment, it didn’t click yet that technology was the right fit for her. As a junior in college, though, Sam had realized that she no longer wanted to pursue nursing. She worked with a career counselor, who after viewing Sam’s aptitude test results, encouraged her to look into studying IT. Sam recalls, “What a game changer that was! I felt as though I had found my calling.”
Making an impact
In 2015, Sam completed a three-month internship at Sparq as a Junior Associate in the QA practice. She loved it, but ended up getting a full-time offer at ADP where she assisted small business clients with their payroll needs. Sam discovered that she missed the culture at Sparq, where her impact felt “amplified,” and she was able to create stronger relationships with both leadership and her peers. She returned to Sparq’s QA practice three years later, where she loves being able to troubleshoot and fine-tune the user experience for her clients.
Close to home
Working for Sparq gave Sam the chance to have a fulfilling career without needing to leave her hometown, especially in a difficult time in her life. Sam shared, “Moving to a big city was definitely a fear of mine. During my last two years of college, my mom was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I needed to be close to home to be able to take care of her.” While her mom is doing much better now, Sam’s still happy she gets to stay in Augusta. “Being able to make use of my degree, in a field that I love, and be close to home has been so wonderful. Working at Sparq has made all of this possible for me.”
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