To stand out, I recommend getting things done, and doing them well. First, execute your job responsibilities to the best of your ability, enthusiastically, and reliably. When you do good work, and can be counted on to deliver it on time and in a way that lightens the load for others, you become known, not only to those who know of the actual work, but also those to whom they recommend you based on that work.
Second, look beyond your job responsibilities to find ways to make meaningful contributions. Early in my career, I sought opportunities to speak and write on hot topics or substantive legal matters. For example, I volunteered to co-present with a director at the NIH regarding the Bayh-Dole Act. In researching my presentation, I discovered, and then was able to highlight, a conflict between the statutes regarding the ownership of intellectual property under the Bayh-Dole Act and regulations of the Veteran’s Administration, which was eventually reconciled legislatively. Continuing to develop a deeper understanding of the Bayh-Dole Act positioned me well to attract client inquiries on the subject.
Third, seek leadership roles that contribute to the profession. Taking on these roles has allowed me to collaborate with colleagues and, by consistently producing good results, earn their respect, which has increased my visibility as a thought leader. I also look for opportunities to get involved internally at my firm. I serve as practice chair, am active in a number of committees, and mentor several professionals. Advancing initiatives of the firm is another way to get noticed. When you build a reputation as someone who does good work and can be counted on to get things done, you stand out and are sought out for rewarding opportunities.
On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
It takes aptitude and attitude to succeed. Many are competent, but not all feel a sense of urgency and enthusiasm about their career or client service. Purposefully seek out challenging opportunities to develop your skills and advance your career. Try to make the most of those opportunities by executing them in a thoughtful manner, achieving client goals, and delivering the desired results. If you enjoy those opportunities, let your enthusiasm show. It can be contagious and lead to more opportunities.
On Facing Challenges
Overcoming inertia is the hardest challenge I face in my career. When working, I find it easy to continue working; when enjoying time with my family, even doing chores seems hard to stop. Unfortunately, my professional and personal focuses require shifting from one to the other, and blending both on a frequent basis. I am still working to overcome my tendency to resist being pulled from my current focus, hopefully with a modicum of grace.
Pamela’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
In preparing for any career, I advise understanding your strengths, weaknesses, values, and how you want to spend your days. I apply this advice. I have purposefully crafted a career around my strengths, ensuring time to honor my commitments, and surrounding myself with professionals that inspire me to be my best.