Last year, Margarita Arriaga was a stay-at-home mother of two searching for work. She wished for a career but didn’t have a college degree and wasn’t sure where to turn. Now she’s working in the customer service department at Associa, the largest community management firm in the world. She is just one of the success stories resulting from Associa’s partnership with Richland College Garland Campus and its grant programs.
Arriaga took advantage of the Workforce Innovations Opportunity Act Grant for Young Adults funded through Workforce Solutions of Greater Dallas. Select Associa employees have been getting advanced education through a $450,000 Skills Development Fund Grant awarded by the Texas Workforce Commission to Richland College Garland Campus in partnership with Associa.
“I saw a flyer offering free accounting courses and I just knew that this is what I was waiting for,” says Arriaga. “I called the number, registered for courses at Richland College and after four months of classes I applied at Associa.”
She learned about document presentation, telephone systems and the accounting software Quickbooks, plus completed her Internet & Core Computing Certification (IC3) while in the Accounting/Office Specialist Program on campus.
“It was my first interview ever and I was nervous just thinking about a professional career with a big company,” recalls Arriaga. “When they called me back and told me they were interested in hiring me I didn’t know what to say, but I’m glad I said yes!”
Associa’s Vice President of Human Resources Amanda Wojczak remembers the interview with Margarita, “I could tell she was anxious, but I could also see that she was determined and that she had a strong work ethic. Her desire to succeed coupled with her newly acquired accounting experience made her the ideal candidate for a position at Associa’s Client Shared Services Center in Richardson.”
Margarita is a successful example of gaining access to the workforce and now she can take advantage of addition career opportunities through the dynamic partnership. Programs like the Skills Development Fund Grant, which was awarded in October of 2014, benefitted 322 current Associa employees by paying for 10,648 hours of courses focused on technical training, business ethics concepts, communications and leadership skills.
“When a project such as a Skills Development Fund Grant is a success, the credit starts with the development team,” says Richland College Grant Manager Sheridan Nixon. “Associa and Richland College put together a great core of individuals, and with excellent planning and realistic scheduling the result was an award-winning program. Associa and Richland College now have an outstanding model for success and are looking to collaborate in the future in a variety of capacities.”
“I love my job, and I love knowing that there are more opportunities for career growth through the partnership between Associa and Richland College,” says Arriaga, who started working for Associa in March of this year. “I love my team and my manager and I thank God so much for this opportunity.”
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