When I first started out in the professional world, I didn’t have a blueprint for success, but I was fortunate to have had a strong network of mentors who supported me and gave me the courage to take risks I wouldn’t normally take.
My first job after college was in a management training program at a department store. After working there for five years, I was passed by for a promotion for a white male coworker with little experience and no college degree. I left that job shortly thereafter to pursue a law degree, but the experience made me realize that I would have to push myself harder and overcome a lot of barriers in order to be successful.
Former Congresswoman Carrie Meek, my good friend and lifelong mentor, constantly encouraged me to “kick butt with grace,” a motto I used to build a successful government lobbying practice and become only the second female shareholder at the international law firm Becker & Poliakoff.
At Becker & Poliakoff, I have the opportunity to devote my efforts to lobbying for causes I believe in, such as helping historically black colleges obtain funding and making sure that the small, primarily minority communities have their voices heard in front of the state legislature. The firm’s founder, Alan Becker, has also served as my mentor, encouraging me to be a leader within the firm and teaching me how to combine success and profit with making a positive difference in the community.
I’ve also learned that the roles of mentor and mentee are often interchangeable, and I find myself learning and being inspired by leaders of all ages and backgrounds. I’m a firm believer in peer mentorship because mentoring isn’t about age or title, but about sharing the lessons you’ve learned and setting a good example that inspires others to develop their strengths and become leaders in their own way.
My experiences with mentoring have made me feel very passionately about serving as a mentor for others. My best advice for other women is to have confidence in yourself and know that you too are blazing a trail for future generations. Women have a tendency not to toot their own horns, but you should never be afraid to stand up and make the world take notice of your achievements.