I didn’t know what I wanted to do growing up but I remember being drawn to storytelling. I did a stint in radio, but went back to writing and did really well in those classes in school because it came naturally to me. In college, I picked a major that I had a passion for, mass communications, and I think that’s been vital. If you figure out what you’re drawn to and like to do, and find a company where you can use your talents, you can pretty much write your own ticket. And often, it won’t even feel like work.
When I was in my early 20s, I was halfway through college and still didn’t have a clue about where I’d end up. I began as a flight attendant at TWA, and although that job didn’t call for writing, there were volunteer opportunities that did. Management saw my efforts, and I was asked to do more, including paid assignments and new job opportunities at the airline. After I graduated, my degree, those extra experiences, and the self confidence I had gained as a flight attendant and by learning the business from the ground up served me well.
Employees don’t care how many degrees I have or how long my title is. When I talk to our employees from the perspective of a former flight attendant, it gives me credibility. On the flip side, when I am interacting at the executive level, I never forget where I came from and the challenges line employees face, and I work hard to make sure the company always considers that point of view.
I’ve had women say to me, “I wish I would have had the choices you had but our choices were more limited when I was growing up.” While that’s a poignant statement, today’s young women have even more choices than I did, and we’re making progress in ensuring that today’s young girls have even more yet.
Today, women can make all the choices they want. There was a time I had higher aspirations than what I’m doing now, but a work-life balance is very important to me. I spent the first half of my career focused on education and career growth, but now I can enjoy more balance with my family and all I’ve worked for.
If you figure out what you’re drawn to, use your talents, and surround yourself with people who value your talents, other opportunities will follow.