Until May 2022, Beline Francisque worked for a corporate healthcare bureaucracy that frustrated patients to no end. Often, they took their anger out on Beline. She was the administrator who’d hand over a $2,000 bill because a patient’s health insurance was no longer valid. She’d gone into healthcare under immense pressure from her parents. She couldn’t stand it anymore.
A first-generation Haitian-America, Beline grew up in Malden, Massachusetts, just north of Boston. Her mother, a nurse, and her father, owner of a driving school, had migrated from Haiti to the U.S. before Beline was born. She enjoyed art and design as a kid, but her parents expected her to pursue a career as a nurse, doctor, lawyer, or engineer. Beline attended Howard University and failed out of the nursing program. She switched into Howard’s healthcare management program and did well, especially in business and marketing classes.
After graduating in 2021, Beline stayed in Washington, D.C. and took the job in healthcare management. Before long, she was determined to pursue her actual passion: design and marketing. “I didn't really know how to get into that field because I didn't have any experience,” says Beline. She discovered BuildWithin and interviewed for its apprenticeship program. “This is a company that can teach me and guide me into the field that I want to be in,” Beline remembers thinking. “This is my chance.”
BuildWithin accepted Beline, who began taking online courses in project management, WordPress, digital media, social marketing, and soft skills, like how to accept feedback. Within two weeks, Beline had an interview to be digital marketing and social media coordinator for Seven Management Hospitality Group, a restaurant operator.
Like many apprentices, Beline felt self-conscious about her lack of experience. She shared this with Stephanie Baum, Director of Apprenticeships at BuildWithin. “I was excited, but I was like, ‘Girl… I’ve never run any social media! How are they going to make me ‘coordinator’ if I’ve never coordinated anything?!’”
Stephanie reframed the situation. “You have to believe in yourself for them to believe in you,” says Beline, paraphrasing Stephanie’s advice. “There are so many people high up in companies that had no experience. They just walked into that interview and acted like they knew everything, and people believed them. You run your own social media, so you've run social media before.”
Steph prepared Beline for the interview with practice questions and mock interviews. Seven Management hired Beline on April 28, 2022 to do marketing for Fixins Soul Kitchen, a restaurant brand with locations in Los Angeles and Sacramento. Although Beline would work remotely from D.C., Fixins flew her to Los Angeles for her first day of work on May 2.
That day, Beline arrived at Fixins at 10 am and didn’t leave until 9 pm. Beline’s manager put her right to work. The Cinco de Mayo promotions needed to be published that day. Beline was nervous to design and post content for Fixins’ 20,000 social media followers. She started and scrapped six different designs before submitting one for approval, which she had to redo anyway. The final post performed well. Next, Beline created content and campaigns for Mother’s Day and a major Juneteenth event.
Over time, Beline’s responsibilities expanded to coordinating events with celebrities, micro-influencers, and blue-chip brands like Disney. She also took on menu updates and a website overhaul. “As I did more, I started to become more confident in what I was doing,” says Beline. “I understood what my boss wanted in designs. Don't get me wrong, I'm still learning. But it got easier.”
Of the many lessons Beline has learned in her apprenticeship, how to communicate with teammates is perhaps the most important. When feeling overwhelmed, she wasn’t sure what to say or to whom. “I would just go silent, which is not okay at all, especially when you're remote,” Beline says.
Beline depended on colleagues for information—like menu changes and specials—and couldn’t do her work without it. She was afraid, however, to get other people in trouble if they weren’t providing what she needed. So, things wouldn’t get done.
Beline’s mentor at Seven Management coached her to speak up and be assertive. She learned to speak up when the stress was overwhelming. She also learned to contact people (repeatedly, if necessary), say what she needed, and commit them to a deadline. “If I need help with something, or if I don't understand something, or I need to get an answer from someone and they're not answering, instead of me just sitting there and waiting, I ask other people for help,” she says.
Thanks to Beline, Fixins now has over 35,000 social media followers. Toward the end of her apprenticeship, Beline received an offer to continue full-time. She is now the Digital Marketing and Media Coordinator at Seven Management and instrumental in launching Fixins’ newest location in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, historically known as Black Wall Street.
Beline’s advice to potential apprentices: “Just go for it. It’s the best way to step into a different career field because not only are you getting paid for something that you want to do, you're also learning. They're teaching you how to be better at that job, and they're teaching you to become a better employee. On top of that, you won't be alone. You have BuildWithin behind you.”
*To learn about more apprenticeships with BuildWithin, get in touch with our team