Tell Us Your Story: Alissa Carpenter

How StrengthsFinder Helps Students & Academic Adviser Alike

Here at TNM, we have a large community of people who are inspired by our words, tips, and real world advice. We are continuing to feature some members of our greater community who are equally as inspiring through the Tell Us Your Story: Young Professional Series here on our blog. These people have found their Niche, and want to share their story with you. Our fourth feature is young professional Alissa Carpenter, who from a career in education, started a business based on Gallup’s StrengthsFinder tool that she was then able to convert to her full time.


Alissa's Story

Alissa Carpenter is a young professional who is deeply rooted in the greater Philadelphia area, but has managed to create an impact that extends far greater. She married her high school boyfriend, completed her education at University of Pittsburgh, and today lives and runs her business, Everything’s Not OK and That’s OK just five minutes from her childhood home.

Alissa’s career journey began in 2005 when she started out in education. As an Admissions Counselor at Chestnut Hill College, Alissa focused on the need for an orientation for graduate students as well as special events for new students among her regular duties. She then transitioned to Penn State in 2007, where she served as an Academic Advisor. Here, she developed and implemented an academic planning workshop and a peer advising program. From 2011 to March of this year, Alissa worked at UPenn. She started in the Wharton school where she was the Associate Director of Academic Affairs and Advising. In this job she developed new materials for incoming freshman, as well as a writing coach. In 2014, she was promoted to the Senior Associate Director position. Yet again, Alissa created and instituted a new program, still in effect for all students and faculty within the Wharton school, using the StrengthsFinder assessment. What she didn't know, though, is that this time she would find a new passion and career path through her work.

Throughout her own experiences, as well as her time in advising, Alissa began to sense a huge disconnect between college and the workplace. To close this gap, Alissa worked with students one on one to find their strengths, map their potential career and life paths, and empower students to take control of where their educated takes them. From the moment she found the Gallup’s StrengthsFinder assessment, she was hooked.

For those of you not familiar with StrengthsFinder, “Gallup research proves that people succeed when they focus on what they do best. When they identify their talents and develop them into strengths, people are more productive, perform better, and are more engaged. Gallup's Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment is the first step in helping people identify their talents. Clifton StrengthsFinder results give people a way to discuss and develop their unique combination of skills, talents, and knowledge, also known as strengths.”

This was something Alissa had been working to conceptualize, until she realized that what she needed was already out there. She began to use StrengthsFinder daily, to help students “develop, grow, or get out of a rut”. After other faculty from the Wharton School saw how valuable it was to give students a tool to help them capitalize on their strengths and turn attention away from weaknesses, they suggested that Alissa roll out the Gallup StrengthsFinder tool as a full curriculum and course for all of Wharton, instead of just something she used in her own advising office. Alissa loved this idea, so she went to work for her StrengthsFinder certification, as well as other personality analysis tool certifications. From then on, Alissa developed and taught a lecture on the importance of uncovering your strengths for an introductory business course for all incoming students.

Alissa found so much value in StrenghtsFinder, that she began working with others on nights and weekends, and eventually developed a business outside of the Wharton school working in a similar way. She began helping professionals do what they do best, and millennials find their spot, with a goal to help everyone move up. She notes that “StrengthsFinder is the base for an increase in success for so many”. It is the “how” for so many who know where they want to get, they just need a way to get there.

While it was difficult to manage her “side hustle” in addition to working full time, managing a family, and attempting to make some time for herself, starting a business using StrengthsFinder was natural for Alissa. It was even easier to devote much of her spare time to her new company because she truly loved the work she had begun. So, in March of 2017, when Alissa was comfortable with the consistency of her business, which she calls “Everything’s Not OK and That’s OK”, she left the Wharton school after six years to become an Independent Consultant. She is now career consultant coaching millennials through executives, and she works with them on everything from resume building, to job search, to salary negotiation, and asking for promotion. Additionally, she helps companies and organizations understand millennials and Gen Z.

When we asked Alissa what she thinks some of the key action items of her business are, she said:

1. Everything's not okay, and that's okay. What’s important is that you're doing something to move forward and change your life.

2. People are able to, and should find their interests, passion, and purpose through their career. They just need help doing so.

3. Everyone can find their strengths and use them to their advantage as a tool for growth.

Perspective on Job Satisfaction

“Though people seem to be working on work life balance and integration, work is life now, where before work was part of life”. Because of this shift, Alissa notes that “people are beginning to ask for a career that truly makes them happy”. She realizes that because of technology, people are constantly connecting with those from their workplace, and have begun to feel like their are never not working. The goal has become more than making a reliable salary and keeping your 9-5, people want to find their true passion, their dream job, their overall purpose in life. While Alissa thinks this is a positive change, she notes that “ someone’s job does not need to bring all of their happiness in life, side hustles, mentoring, part time jobs, and so many other things can bring happiness too. People do many things at once and create a cohesive happiness.”

For Alissa, finding complete job satisfaction also means the ability to check out and log off from time to time. She loves being able to leave her phone in her purse, or even at home to spend time with her kids. This time offline is crucial for her to fully invest other time into her career. After so many years of mentoring and coaching people of all ages, Alissa has picked out some of the most key items in being successful in all walks of life.

Alissa’s “quick tips”

  1. Be a goal setter.

  2. Make lists.

  3. Consider pros and cons.

  4. Reflect on what actually makes you happy,

  5. Build a support system.

  6. In a career, you can “just shift” but sometimes you need to “jump ship”.

  7. Reach out to others.

  8. You will fail and it will be okay.

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