So tell me what appealed to you on playing this role?
"Leonard Cohen has a great quote that says: "Being a songwriter is like being a nun, you’re married to a mystery." Every time you start, you feel like you’ve never done this before and you have no idea how you did it. But for all of the torture and agony that comes with writing, there is literally not a better feeling in the world than when you finish a song."
mindy kaling + the office bloopers
I absolutely loved attending the Dyson Symposium a few weeks ago, a symposium dedicated to a dialogue between current Cornell undergrads and female alums from various fields to talk about the successes, challenges, and everyday balance hardships that arise as a woman in a workplace. I left the symposium completely inspired—my gender is an advantage. I can be successful. I have generations of women before me who have taken over their fields who have once sat where I sit now. Although the symposium is held in the Dyson School and developed through a business or entrepreneurial backbone, I attended with no interest in the business world, instead looking for inspiration in successful women. Here are my big takeaways that don’t necessarily have to do with business, but about life advice from the wonderful women who spoke to us.
1. There are so many paths to success even if your career doesn’t stem from your major in college. Suzy Welch spoke about her career trajectory from Fine Arts major to journalist to businessperson to editor to business coach and author. Her career developed through her natural talent, intelligence, and passion for what she was doing—it was almost as if the type of job didn’t matter: Suzy manifested success herself through her skills not her college degree. The real key isn’t to worry about if you picked the right major but to find your area of destiny: the middle point between what you’re uniquely talented at and what you love, and find or create the career that encompasses both.
2. Mentorship isn’t a junior to superior relationship, it’s about making connections and learning from everyone. In classes about career development, it’s often taught to students that the most important tool in your lifetime is to find a mentor, someone to teach, guide, and help you in your career who will have your back. While this advice is sound, Suzy Welch brought up the point that mentorship can exist with everyone you meet, there doesn’t have to be a formal relationship. If you admire someone—the way they raise their hand in class, their ability to meet a deadline, whatever it is—let them be your mentor and model yourself after them. Sherece West-Scantlebury also spoke similarly about her goal to learn grace and how she looks for example in it in everyone she meets, even students. Let the world mentor you.
3. You don’t quit a company, you quit a boss. At a session dedicated to working in the non-profit sector (a term lamented by the representatives on the panel, they don’t see a difference in sectors, just as people all trying to do their job), women spoke about how it’s rare to leave a company because you no longer agree with their mission or purpose, it mostly comes down to the boss. Bridget Lowell ’96, of the Urban Institute, discussed how you should leave when either you really have nothing else to learn from your boss or the position, or when you’ve learned you can’t operate under that type of boss anymore. Don’t let your connection to the company stop you from leaving if you feel it’s not going anywhere. Know your worth, don’t let your sunk cost (the feeling that you’ve spent so much time there and the worry that if you left it would be a wasted investment) keep you from moving on.
4. Understanding where other people are coming from is key. In a workshop dedicating to speedreading personality type led by Sharon Duak ‘89, we went beyond discussing the in’s and out’s of the Meyers-Briggs diagnosis (I’m an ENFJ, by the way), and started to analyze how we could understand others’ personalities for more effective results. For example, if you know the person you’re talking to is an introvert, instead of feeling awkward or pushing through silent moments in conversation, know that this is them processing and thinking. Let the silence be until they’re ready to speak. If the person you’re speaking with is a perceiver, give them hard deadlines weeks in advance: they will always be looking at solutions from every conceivable angle and always stretching to find another answer, but if you give them enough notice on when you need a final decision they will feel less stressed in giving you an answer than if you asked for a gut decision.
It was a great two days filled with anecdotes, wisdom, and networking across disciplines and ages with the key theme ringing of girl power. I loved being surrounded by women who were changing the world or who are going to change the world. I think the most inspiring part of the entire symposium was in Suzy Welch’s keynote where she asked “why not you?” She spoke about her daughter wanting to become a casting agent, talking about how it’s risky and she’ll never be the one who gets to cast all the big time Hollywood movies, and Suzy replied with “why can’t it be you?” Something as simple as this blew my mind. She’s right. I dream of producing and marketing Broadway shows, or maybe even getting my PhD in theatre history and writing books on musical theatre. It seems distant and far off but really, there will always be successful producers and authors…what’s stopping me from being one of them?
Nothing. We Cornell women are taking over the world.
when they show a scene from two seasons ago in the “previously on” you know something fishy is about to happen