Odd jobs first, dream job later for SAU grad

SAU grad Mo Carter plays at Street Fest in Davenport last July. The Buzz/Submitted.
SAU grad Mo Carter plays at Street Fest in Davenport last July. The Buzz/Submitted.

Being the “Marketing and Promotions Coordinator of River Music Experience” in Davenport, Iowa, doesn’t sound equivalent to delivering papers or mowing lawns—those quick but fleeting money-makers we might think of as “odd jobs.”

And in fact, it’s not. It is a full-time job that has kept St. Ambrose University alumna Maureen Carter more than busy for the
last three years.

“Working here is like a dream job, just with not the best pay,” Carter said.

But the 2006 graduate said it’s much easier to overlook the pay when you love your job, and when you’re lucky enough to enjoy the people you work with. While she has her “dream job” now, she didn’t always know that she wanted to work in this field. And nor did she walk right into the job knowing it was perfect.

“I was terrified to graduate,” Carter said. “College is awesome.”

Carter double-majored in journalism and radio-TV production. She didn’t decide on these majors until her junior year, when she had run out of general educations credits and knew she had to pick a major.

“I went to the career center and was stressing over it,” Carter said. “But I think for a lot of people, who knows what they want to do?”

Like many graduates hope to do, she stuck to her four-year plan to avoid extra semesters of debt. But that didn’t allow her as much time to build internship experience in her fields of study, which made her job search all the more challenging.

“You really need to have some real-world experience,” Carter said. “Employers want to know that you can do the job, not just that you took the courses.”

The November after her graduation, she picked up a retail job as assistant manager at Guitar Center in Davenport. Even as a musician who enjoys singing, and playing the guitar and soprano ukulele, Carter soon realized retail sales wasn’t the right place to forge her career path.

But it was a resume builder that led her to her next job, where she spent a busy two years learning the ins and outs of radio sales with Cumulus Media, Inc. in Davenport.

“Radio sales was another whole ball game,” Carter said. “But I learned a lot from my time there, and I don’t regret doing it.”

Sure enough, that experience landed Carter in her current position at River Music Experience, a non-profit venue for the performing arts. Her job responsibilities include everything from educational programming to managing RME’s website and social media accounts. She also doubles as a public relations spokesperson.

“I’ll write TV scripts and radio ads,” Carter said. “I’ll even voice the radio ads because I like to do that.”

She enjoyed her double major from St. Ambrose, which continues to help her with these job skills. But Carter said she might have done things a little differently if she realized her interests sooner.

“If I could go back, I would have done marketing and a minor in graphic design,” Carter said. “But you just never know where the road is going to take you.”

Whether graduates know exactly what they want to do or not, Carter said that they will likely have to work some other jobs before landing the real dream job. She wants graduates to remember “everyone is in the same boat,” and doing internships after graduation doesn’t mean you are taking a step backward.

“It’s ok! You’ll find a job,” Carter said. “It just might take a little longer than expected.”

In addition to working full-time at RME, Carter further satisfies her love of music by performing in her four-person band, Busted Chandeliers. She said she is currently creating a press kit for their band using the skills she has learned through her job. On the side, she continues to do some solo performances that include vocals and guitar.

“Being around music every day is awesome,” Carter said. “It’s what I love, and what I love to do.”

Carter, second from left, with her band Busted Chandeliers. The Buzz/Submitted.
Carter, second from left, with her band Busted Chandeliers. The Buzz/Submitted.

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