I’ve never really thought of myself as a risk taker, but as someone who made a tectonic shift in her career while raising two young kids, I guess the description fits.
For many years, I worked with some of the area’s larger law firms in their litigation, regulatory, and immigration practices. I was good at it and used all the research and organizing tools at my disposal. I could bluebook and digest cases, lead teams in document review and production, pull together immigration applications, and file documents with federal agencies and courts with the best of them.
Then in 2007, I found myself leading a team of 50 Clinton organizers on national blogs in rapid response. It was important to know her and the other candidates’ positions and plans, and understand the policy behind them. And we used humor – lots of humor to deflect anger and aggression. I was suddenly working full time with two small kids, and fighting the good fight online evenings and weekends. I started building websites (Soapblox and WordPress), and I learned new digital tools to further my online organizing. That was it – I was hooked.
I went on to work on digital projects in the U.S. Senate, and then with a small global nonprofit, and my campaign work has helped to sharpen my team management and outreach skills. Now I’m firmly planted in something I really enjoy and am good at – digital communications. My degree may be in international relations but this digital stuff… it’s all mine. I went out and grabbed it.
From a very early age I’ve been a problem solver. I was that curious kid who took apart anything to see how it worked, and then put it back together. I guess that’s what led me to learn HTML coding early on, and teach myself how to build websites and make the most of digital tools.
New skills are becoming more important than degrees in this rapidly changing world. Without curiosity, they’re hard to acquire. Having that soft skill is vital if you’re to continually create your future value to your clients or employer.
Bottom line: If you don’t keep up with continual learning, you get left behind.
Thomas Friedman touched on some of these issues in yesterday’s column, After the Pandemic, a Revolution in Education and Work Awaits. Thought provoking. Definitely worth a read.