Making a leap is never simple. But in 2002, as a young media relations executive in the entertainment industry, that was exactly what I needed to do. In fact, I knew that I needed to take an even bigger leap—into an entirely new career.
My job at a large music company certainly had the advantages of interesting people and challenging projects. But then along came Napster, and technology that enabled the unlimited sharing of digital music files, which turned the music industry on its head. I wanted to be at the forefront of a new frontier. And my ambitious nature had me striving for something more. I did not see my career flourishing if I remained where I was, but I felt confident that I was destined for great things.
So, after six years of climbing the corporate ladder in one career—and just a bit shy of 30 years old—I decided to study for the law school entrance exam. My family and friends did not think I was serious. “Where will you go to law school? Will you move to another city? How will you pay for law school?” they all asked repeatedly. The truth is, I had no idea. But I knew that I was moving in a new direction that felt right. So I kept going.
Law school was educational in more ways than one. I found analytical skills I did not know I had and discovered that my ability to handle multiple projects with competing deadlines was a skill not shared by everyone. Most of all, I realized that my determination to succeed was quite a valuable tool. It gave me, and still gives me, the strength to achieve grander goals, even when they appear to require overcoming insurmountable hurdles.
On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
You’ll need drive, ambition, and dedication. Also, the ability to multitask is key. Working in a law firm requires managing many different clients—you handle all types of people, personalities, emotions, issues, and projects. Being able to keep all of these balls in the air (without dropping any) is a skill that is essential to succeed in my field
On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
Mark Fischer, a former principal at Fish & Richardson, and now a partner at Duane Morris, was instrumental in my career development. He was supportive of me from day one, and his confidence in me allowed me to develop an expertise in copyright law.
On Facing Challenges
My toughest career challenge? Changing it!
Kristen’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
Do not settle. Try a few different things. Be picky. This is your life, after all. Make sure you enjoy what you do. And if you don’t, then change it. Enjoying your job is the key to waking up feeling satisfied, happy, and yes, even excited, every day. If you enjoy what you do, the rest—including success—will follow.