Six career pointers from the 2022 Aspire Conference
Tons of valuable professional and personal guidance is dispensed at the annual Aspire Conference. Held on campus each fall, the conference is an important element of Carthage’s career development sequence, The Aspire Program.
Here are six pieces of advice that emerged from the 2022 conference:
1. Say yes as often as possible.
That paid off in the long run for Joanna Baumann ’07 (center in photo), who loves her multifaceted career. She’s vice president of marketing and partnerships at iHeartRadio in Las Vegas, co-host of the city’s No. 1 radio show, and a commercial voiceover artist.
In search of warmer winters, Ms. Baumann blanketed Vegas employers with her resume and took a position with a prepaid wireless company — a job she couldn’t remember applying for. She jumps at new opportunities, learning that even the duds can be valuable. Like an unfulfilling stint at the dated Riviera Hotel and Casino that convinced iHeartRadio execs she could confront a challenge.
2. Take control of your story.
After interviewing countless people as a podcaster and an award-winning journalist, Tommy Tomlinson knows how to tell compelling stories. And students can crush job interviews with a similar approach.
Demonstrating with stick figure drawings, he explained that a good story always contains three elements: a) a sympathetic character who b) overcomes some obstacle to c) reach their ultimate goal. Aspire Center staff member Holly Hess encouraged students to refine that narrative — complete with illustrations — until they can tell their own stories confidently.
3. Get the most out of online career tools.
Jamie Ryan, an enterprise account director for LinkedIn, advised students to approach their profiles on the popular website differently than a resume. He offered tips for headlines and keywords that are more likely to attract recruiters.
Attendees also learned how to stand out on Carthage’s own job and internship platform, Handshake. Representatives from Northwestern Mutual, the Center for Urban Teaching, and campus offices reminded students to use active verbs that align their experience with the employer’s stated goals.
4. Lean on your Carthage mentors.
Almost 30 active alumni returned to Carthage for the Firebirds in Your Field breakout sessions and a Meet Your Mentor reception. They connected with students who share their majors, backgrounds, or campus involvements.
“I like talking to a lot of people from different fields and getting the reassurance that I still have time to fully figure out a plan and what I want to do,” one conference attendee wrote in an evaluation form.
5. Be nice to everyone.
Working in Las Vegas near the headquarters of Zappos, Joanna Baumann takes inspiration from the online retailer’s culture. One prime example: Hiring managers would provide bus transportation to job interviews — not only to be hospitable, but also to monitor how well candidates treated the bus drivers.
That fits with Ms. Baumann’s insistence on growing into “the best version of yourself.” She points to a dramatic shift in her social media accounts, which once played up her celebrity contacts but now focus on motherhood and charitable causes.
6. Go to the Aspire Conference.
Total attendance at the three-day conference approached 600. A few seniors, like Madison Mueller ’23, have made it every year since the event began in 2019.
“I feel like I’m even more prepared to take on life after college now, after getting to listen to some invaluable advice on careers,” she posted afterward on LinkedIn.