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Been There, Learned This: 7 Career Tips from Alumni

Presenters at the 2021 Aspire Conference, held on campus Oct. 4 through 6, included several accomplished Carthage graduates who shared some of the valuable (and often surprising) lessons they’ve learned along the way.

 

1. Talk to strangers.

Adrienne Hoyt '05 spoke at The Aspire Conference in October 2021.

Adrienne Hoyt ’05 – Vice President of Internal Communications at CNN

Working in a mall while struggling to get a professional foothold, Adrienne Hoyt shared her career goals with an employee at her bank. That random connection led to a position with the American Cancer Society, where she spent six rewarding years.

 

2. You don’t have to be the expert.

Marcus Knight '06

Marcus Knight ’05 – Entrepreneur and Black-Owned Business Turbocharger

After he sets up a business — something he’s done 15 times — Marcus Knight happily turns over the keys to someone else. Surrounding himself with smart professionals with more expertise in day-to-day business operations, he’s continually learning. Unafraid to “fail fast and fail often,” he openly admits only seven of those 15 businesses survived.

 

3. Take ‘no’ for an answer … and turn it into a positive.

Jordan Ball '23, left, and Carl Rapisarda '05 participated in the “Find Your Flock” panel dis... 

Carl Rapisarda ’05 – Head of Faculty Recruitment at Brimmer and May School

“Every single ‘no’ sent me to where I am today,” says Carl Rapisarda (shown at right in photo). From settling for an unfulfilling foot-in-the-door job after initially striking out on a teaching position to overcoming colleagues’ skepticism about his readiness for a leadership position, those experiences have fueled his rise.

 

4. You’re more than your college major or job title.

Kate Colbert '95 presented at the Aspire Conference in October 2021.

Kate Colbert ’95 – Best-Selling Author, Marketer, and Business Owner

Just as she does for clients, Kate Colbert encouraged Carthage students to frame their own story — the brief summation they present to employers. She points out the personal and professional qualities that make a job candidate stand out go far beyond standard resume fare.

 

5. Effort is everything.

Sharmain Harris '20, MSc '21, presented at the Aspire Conference in October 2021.

Sharmain Harris ’20, MSc ’21

Despite a past felony conviction that hindered his job prospects, Sharmain Harris simply plowed ahead in his drive for a better life. Whether it meant leading a fatherhood program he had only planned to attend or doing graduate coursework while caring for a prematurely newborn son, he simply refused to be outworked. As he puts it colorfully, “Effort on fire is better than knowledge on ice.”

 

6. Accomplishments don’t speak for themselves.

Caroline Riley '02 spoke at the Aspire Conference in October 2021.

Caroline Riley ’02 – Head of Sales at Google Cloud

Bringing Google’s #IamRemarkable initiative to the conference, Caroline Riley challenged students to embrace self-promotion by brushing off self-doubt and societal expectations of modesty. “It’s not bragging if it’s based on facts,” she explained.

 

7. Invest in yourself first.

Jamin McGinnis '06 presented at the Aspire Conference in October 2021.

Jamin McGinnis ’06 – Channel Manager, Breakthrough Beverage Company

It might seem counterintuitive, but Jamin McGinnis says fully investing in yourself is the only thing that can equip you to invest in others. Although it’s important to be well-rounded — he was kind of a Renaissance man at Carthage — he urges students to find balance in order to avoid burnout.

 

Career Development at Carthage

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2021), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit The Aspire Center.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors, and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from marketing to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $25,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about Intellectual Foundations.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked in the Top 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …

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