If there’s one thing you can learn from Amanda Carpenter’s story, it’s that the most unexpected events can turn into the career of a lifetime. Amanda has not even turned thirty yet and is the current Speechwriter and Senior Communications Advisor for Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina. However, she didn’t get the job by working her way up the Capitol Hill ladder—she successfully advanced unusually quickly on the Hill. That’s why she was recently featured on Red Alert Politics’ “Thirty-Under-Thirty” list.
When something unexpected happens
Carpenter always knew she wanted to break into the communications industry, but it wasn’t until she was forced to quit college softball due to an injury that the dream surprisingly became a reality. When Amanda lost her athletic scholarship after she stopped playing softball, tuition suddenly skyrocketed. This sparked her interest in research and writing.
Once I started paying the full freight tuition I started to wonder, “Why is college so expensive?” I started researching it and quickly discovered all kinds of needless spending and wanted to alert my fellow college students to do something about it… I [started a blog], started getting lots of hits, and was hooked.
This is where Amanda’s writing career took off. Carpenter continued to focus on journalism, writing for Townhall.com and The Washington Times after college. Then, another unexpected turn in her life took place and she was offered a job on Capitol Hill.
Amanda always had an interest in gaining some Capitol Hill experience, but thought in order to be hired a person needed to start as an intern and work their way up. She was pleasantly surprised when Senator DeMint’s office was looking for a conservative with previous media experience to fill the Speechwriter and Senior Communications Advisor position. Her political background and experience in journalism made her the perfect fit. Because of this opportunity, Carpenter stresses the importance of flexibility. “Always keep your mind open about different job possibilities,” she says. “I would have never imagined myself in this role and now I can’t imagine myself anywhere else.”
Valuable advice from a previous boss
Amanda says one of the most valuable lessons she’s learned about her work came from her first boss, Terry Jeffrey. She was preparing to appear on a major cable TV show for the first time and asked Jeffrey what to do when she went on air. His advice proved to be a lifelong lesson, even if he didn’t realize it at the time.
[Terry] just looked at me and said, “Well, you go on there and say what you think. Have fun,” or something very similar to that effect. He probably didn’t think anything of it, but that was a really instructive moment. Say what you think. Have fun. That’s a great mantra for life.
This mantra is what causes Amanda to love her job so much and advance so quickly. Saying what she thinks and having fun far exceeds merely showing up to work and leaving after eight hours. Because of this, it is easy to tell that Amanda truly enjoys what she does—she raves about DeMint’s office saying she’s glad that the entire staff fights for freedom together and also that she learns so much every day.
A final piece of advice from Amanda.
Amanda’s advice to aspiring writers is short and sweet, but powerful: “write.”
Write, write, write. The best thing about being a writer is that you only have to do one thing to be one: write!
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