Chattanooga-based entrepreneur Jasmine Clark wasn’t content to “wait in line” and climb the giant corporate ladder.

“For me, it’s just feeling like I have the power to create whatever I want to,” she said. “There is no such thing as a limit.”

Originally from Atlanta, Clark went to school at New York University and then got a job at multinational consumer goods company Unilever, where she worked for about two years.

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She fell in love with someone from Chattanooga but initially wasn’t convinced she could make it here, businesswise.But like in situations that had come before, Clark decided to make something happen and ultimately found that she could grow faster in this environment.

So she’s launched a new venture, called From Passion to Paycheck, which is gearing up to offer a tour of explorative workshops and seminars for college students and recent alumni.

She’s taking what she’s learned from her experiences and using that to help other millennials who are struggling to find their places in the job market.

She has messages for her audiences about how to:

  • Find and explore personal interests/passions
  • Realize the importance of self-awareness
  • Leverage internship and classroom experiences to build brand credibility
  • Identify their definition(s) of success
  • Capitalize on personal strengths to create-instead of apply for-new opportunities

Starting at the end of the month, she’s kicking off From Passion to Paycheck with workshops and seminars at NYU, Columbia University, innovation conference Confluence Conference and UTC.

Clark’s experience
At 25, Clark has experience in the areas in which she wants to help students and alumni.

For example, to pay for school, she needed thousands of dollars. She was working at least two jobs-McDonald’s in the morning/afternoon and waiting tables in the evening-but still coming up short.

So she and a friend started networking. Clark would collect business cards in an effort to get leads. And based off whom she met, she’d send emails explaining her predicament, her passion, her desire to work hard.

Eventually, her message made its way to a dean, who eventually helped her apply for and connect with scholarships that afforded her the opportunity to pay for school, travel abroad and take internships not only based on how much she’d be paid.

But it wasn’t like she just sent some emails and got a favor from the dean.

She used the tactics that she wants to teach to others to create an opportunity for herself, she said.

She showed school leaders a plan of how she would contribute to paying for school. She showed them that she was willing to work. She practiced self-awareness and resourcefulness, and knew how to communicate her value.

“They saw that I was going to be persevering regardless, and they rewarded that,” she said.

Similarly, when she got her job atUnilever, she was told that the company didn’t hire NYU undergraduates.

“But I wasn’t taking no for an answer,” she said.

She used tools such as LinkedIn and email to connect with people at the company and pitch herself. She said the human resources director must have been bombarded with people mentioning her because soon she had an interview, and a job.

Four-year plan
There are professional disconnects that Clark is hoping to help with.

She sees college students and new graduates who don’t fully understand who they are or what they want.

She sees reports of problematic millennial job hopping, but maybe they are hopping because there’s a detachment between what they expected out of a job and what they ended up getting, she said.

She sees both young people and experienced professionals expecting that a certain traditional path be followed: “Wait your turn. Climb the ladder. Do things the traditional way.”

She sees major companies spending big money on recruitment that isn’t working as well as it should be.

So although she’s starting with students and new alumni as her audience, she hopes that colleges and corporations will eventually hear and learn from her message.

She has a four-year plan for how this will all roll out, and she couldn’t reveal it all.

But first, she’s starting with visiting the colleges whose leaders have been looking for her message and help. Andshe’s working on making connections with more colleges, building her brand and helping students/alumni.

The colleges are the ones paying for her to speak, but eventually, she has plans for other revenue streams.

“From there, I’ll be able to go into a sector where I’m creating strategies for recruiting for a corporation or school,” she said.

Years ago, when Clark pitched her plan to pay for NYU and work for scholarships, she told school leaders that she was an investment. And now, through her new business, she’s working on giving back to NYU students and proving that to be true.

Updated @ 12:53 p.m. on 3/10/16.
Updated @ 9:14 a.m.on 3/11/16.
Updated @ 1:03 p.m.on 3/11/16.

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