Joanna Cheng, Jordan DeTar and Sasha Pines, Aspire to Her
Joanna Cheng, Sasha Pines & Jordan DeTar are some of the fabulous women behind Aspire to Her, a platform featuring newsletters, e-books, and shared experiences for the post-grad gal. Their goal is to share the good, bad and lessons learned to set young women up for success on their career journey. Did we mention they also do interviews featuring potential mentors! We WISH we had this kind of resource when we graduated! If you or someone you know could use the advice from a genuine community of these kick ass women, read on.
Jo and Sasha, why start Aspire To Her?
Jo and Sasha: We started Aspire to Her our senior year of college when we recognized how significant connections and mentorship were to the trajectory of one’s career. During our college career, we co-founded Vanderbilt Women in Business. In our tenure we launched a Mentorship Program that connected students with businesswomen in Nashville. Through running and growing the program, we were incredibly fortunate to meet business leaders and hear their career journey and tangible advice. These learnings and relationships shaped our personal and professional growth.
As we approached graduation and considered the impact our mentors had on guiding our post-grad careers, we were inspired to make their advice accessible to all women. This desire happened in tandem with our own struggle to formulate a “career path”.
We wanted information, inspiration, and applicable advice for the early career. From that desire, Aspire to Her was born.
The pressure of finding a “dream job” is tough. Where do you think the pressures for her to land this really comes from?
Jo: Everyone wants a level of success, and especially in this day and age, everyone wants it now. We live in a society where we truly believe that with enough hard work and perseverance, you can do and achieve anything. And while this breeds hard workers and ambitious individuals, it also amps the pressure and expectations. In addition, achieving this success is made to seem more attainable with social media. These stories are constantly reflected online, with success stories being published left and right. With that being said, we still maintain the stance that seeing these success stories of incredible women allows young women to identify with female role models, which transforms their understanding of their own potential, and thus redefines her ambitions. Many young women, as brilliant as they are, may feel limited in society due to how they identify with our current leaders, whom are predominantly male.
By shedding light on the incredible, trailblazing female executives in business, we hope to inspire our generation of women to dream bigger and enhance the goals they set for themselves.
Sometimes it’s never landed. Do you encourage her to start her own dream as a side hustle or future business opportunity in order to fulfill these dreams?
Jo: This completely depends on what the “dream” is. While many women dream to be entrepreneurs, many women don’t. If starting something yourself fuels you, by all means, start your business! However there are other outlets that allow you to find your dream job. This could mean creating a new job at your place of work, or volunteering etc.
Jordan, what are some typical career mistakes you have come across and how do you encourage her to get back on track?
Jordan: Everyone makes mistakes, especially early in their careers. One common mistake I see young women early in their careers make is settling for menial work. This can have a compounded impact on a woman’s career progression, as copying papers and organizing files is not what gets you to the corner office (or even to the next level, usually!). I see so many young women express frustration with their entry-level roles that lack strategic work, visibility, etc. My answer to that is RAISE YOUR HAND. One thing I’ve learned is that being both young and a minority in the business world means people aren’t always going to come to me first. So when someone asks if I know of someone who is available to help with a project that I know I’m fully capable of doing, I’ll propose myself. In another situation, I might actively seek out the type of work I want to do by networking around my company until I find someone who needs support. Strategically utilizing your network and pulling up a seat at the table is key to succeeding early in your career. Opportunities don’t always come knocking - many times you have to chase them down.
We have been saying HER a lot, and that is because ATH is “For Women, By Women.” Would you ever consider opening it up to HIM and THEM?- Why?
Jordan: Aspire to Her was born out of a passion for empowering women in their early careers by sharing the knowledge of the mentors we aspire to. We focus on women specifically because as young women in business ourselves, we feel a personal connection to the challenges of navigating our early careers as minorities in the business world and we have a strong desire to learn from the women like us who have jumped various hurdles and reached some level of success. As we’re still in the first year of our existence and fully adopting the “lean startup” mindset, we plan to continue our narrow focus on young female-identifying professionals early in their careers. That being said, as our business grows and we’re able to broaden our offerings, we may consider widening our focus.
Whats next for Aspire To Her AND you both, Jo and Jordan? And as young businesswomen, what advice would you give your own self and team in these next chapters?
Jordan: Right now is such an exciting time for Aspire to Her. Last month, we launched Aspire to Her Experiences with our first in-person event to bring our audience and the mentors they aspire to together for the first time. I’m personally focused on continuing to build relationships with our audience and our mentors to grow our presence as a live community. I’m passionate about the power of in-person, and I’m hoping to make Experiences a primary part of our business. We’re currently focused on New York, but are looking forward to broadening this part of ATH to other cities in the future, as well.
Jo: As Jordan mentioned, we’re looking forward to connecting our audience to members offline. We believe real connections and relationships are formed in person, rather than online. As for any advice I’d impart to my team and myself is to have fun and chase your interests. Aspire to Her was created because we saw a need and filled it - it has continued and grown because we truly enjoy the work of building a community and connecting women with each other.
Stay updated and in-real-time by following @aspiretoher on social.
Interviewed by Emily