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Career

Meet Spect: The Empowering Career-Readiness App of Your Dreams

Her Campus UFL is proud to spotlight local businesses and initiatives striving to empower the community. 

In a world where first impressions often come in the form of a perfectly crafted resume and cover letter, it’s important to translate everything an individual does into meaningful professional experience. Enter Spect. 

Launched in 2019, the tech startup specializes in bridging “the readiness gap by fostering professional skill-building, flexible career planning and solidifying industry connections,” according to their website. Through an innovative and smart interface designed with self-starters in mind, the app helps the individual learn more about themself, track and develop in-demand skills and find college, career and internship opportunities befitting of the individual’s interests and skills. Whether a student or currently seeking employment, the app provides various plans tailored to the individual’s needs. 

Her Campus UFL heard from Chief Executive Officer of Spect, Dr. Anita Anantharam, and Elena Pastore, who works as operations and outreach for Spect, about what makes their company so special. 

What does empowerment mean to you? Personally and career-wise.

EP: They are essentially one in the same to me. I believe each individual as a person was meant to make the world a better place by living out their passion in a way that can be monetized. Empowerment is about either giving or receiving the encouragement, guidance and tools to live out your passion and share your knowledge with the world in a way that is meaningful to you and them.

Who inspires you? What impact have they had on you?

EP: One of my favorite “influencers” is Gary Vaynerchuk. He receives a lot of criticism due to his sometimes vulgar language, but I love him because he is inspirational to me both in business and in life. He provides valuable business strategies, suggestions and processes to his followers as well as valuable life lessons and mindsets, such as self-awareness. Over following Gary for the past two years, I have become increasingly enhancing my own self-awareness and helping others do the same. I believe self-awareness is the key that unlocks happiness in life and career. If you know yourself, you are capable of succeeding at all things. What advice would you give to someone with an entrepreneurial idea or desire to break into a competitive industry?

What advice would you give to someone with an entrepreneurial idea or desire to break into a competitive industry?​

EP: The biggest technical piece is having a competitive advantage to your idea (and being able to clearly articulate it). This is especially critical if you are entering a competitive market space (ex. if you are trying to compete with Netflix). The biggest non-technical pieces (which are equally as important) are perseverance and passion. Entrepreneurship is about failure. If you want to succeed from the get-go, entrepreneurship is not for you! I believe anything is possible with perseverance and passion. Passion should be first and foremost because we are willing to fight for the things we love. Perseverance will follow. But, it will be very hard to have success with just passion and not perseverance.

Is there anything you wish you knew when you were younger? What have you learned that you want to share with young women?

EP: I am fortunate to have been raised by a single mom who has always instilled confidence and strong work ethic in me my whole life. It wasn’t until recent years that I realized not every young woman had a figure like that in their life, and many women struggle with confidence as a result. If you don’t have someone like that, find one! It doesn’t have to be a mother figure. It can be any other woman who can serve as a loyal mentor and advisor to you in your endeavors.

What is the origin story of Spect? What need does it fill?

AA: I have been working with students at UF and elsewhere in the U.S. for the past 16 years — a long time — and there have been numerous market/economic changes that have affected and influenced students’ lives in various ways. Informally, I have always served as a career counselor for my students, whether they were applying for jobs or internships or moving on to graduate or professional school. And the one repeated theme that came up in my meetings was whether or not students felt “qualified” or “comfortable” with their applications for these various opportunities. They rarely felt they had the “skills” necessary to secure these opportunities and would come to me for reassurance and advice. Therefore, informally, I would help them with their resumes, cover letters and networking — introducing them to the right people to get the careers launched. Spect is a natural extension of this work. Too often students have a hard time understanding market demands — that’s not their fault — it’s really our fault as professors and administrators to make sure that they feel equipped to take on the next stage of their life. 

When I was on sabbatical in 2014, and I decided to do my MBA here at UF in the college of business, I focused my research and learning around two themes: women’s leadership/empowerment and building social capital (fancy word for networking with the right people — I like to think of it as people who have access to other forms of capital). I grew the idea of Spect during my MBA training and because my professors, particularly Joe Alba, Amir Erez, Fiona Barnes and Virginia Maurer, were so supportive of my work that I decided to launch Spect in fall 2016 after I graduated. I incorporated the company and began building a team and product in 2017-2018. We officially launched in 2019 in Gainesville, FL.

How does Spect encourage the empowerment of the individual and community at large?

EP: Spect wants to make everyone be better. As I mentioned, it is not always the technicalities of your idea, product or service that will make you a successful person or successful business. The most successful people go the extra mile, offer guidance after hours, nurture others, and can play well in the sandbox with others. This is why they are attractive to work with and what, in turn, makes them successful. Spect aims to help individuals develop these qualities to help them be successful. These qualities always have a domino effect on the way goodness brings more goodness to others and an organization as a whole. In this way, a few people can positively impact a community. On another level, Spect helps promote local organizations in the community through sharing involvement opportunities with students and trying to get students involved and give back to the community.

How does one integrate using Spect in their daily life, especially as it pertains to career-related endeavors?

EP: It is easy to use Spect in your daily life! Students can log anything that they find value in that is important to them. When they log each item, they will automatically see the qualities that they are enhancing (leadership, work ethic, global awareness, etc.). If you want to improve in a specific area, we have growth plans that guide you through activities and exercises of what you can do to enhance one of the areas listed above. For example, if you want to improve leadership you can complete the authentic leader plan. Over time, students will see growth and are provided with metrics and charts to share on college or career applications to demonstrate their proficiency in these desirable areas.

Do you have any anecdotes about how Spect has impacted the Gainesville community (or elsewhere)?

EP: Yes! Spect helps promote a sense of community and support. One student on the soccer team told me that her school (Buchholz High School) used Spect to promote athletic games. She said few students attended soccer games and the team felt they had little support from their classmates. When their school adopted Spect, soccer could be better represented as a sport so more students attended games and supported her and her team. She said it was a great feeling to see more peers in the stands and feel like they cared to be there supporting the team. It was heartwarming to hear how touched she felt that Spect could be a tool to encourage school spirit and school community among students.

There you have it! Spect can transform the way you think about soft skills, resumes and professional readiness. Interested in checking out Spect for yourself? Head over to the Spect website and see how this incredible startup can take your personal and career aspirations to the next level. 

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post through a collaboration with Spect x Her Campus UFL. Dr. A has grown to be a close mentor to Julia Mitchem, Viviana Moreno and the women of HC UFL through this partnership. 

 

Julia Mitchem is a University of Florida junior majoring in journalism and minoring in Spanish. She is currently Co-CC for Her Campus UFL. She believes in empathy and inclusivity. She works to empower women in everything she does.
UF Class of 2021. Journalism & women's studies. Viviana Moreno is a writer and online creative dedicated to exuding warmth and promoting inclusivity. She creates content that fuels truth and curiosity through her contributions to publications that seek to empower and inform primarily college-aged individuals.
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