Acting on the Young Women’s Leadership Conference
We all know the story: You go to a conference; you take note of ideas, strategies and goals; you leave the conference telling people you’re going to implement all of these new ideas, strategies and goals. Then, regrettably, you fall back into your usual rhythm. You come down from the high of being surrounded by successful and inspiring role models without implementing any of the ideas, strategies or goals that you left the conference with.
I’ve starred in this story more times than I can count on two hands. But the Young Women’s Leadership Conference was different.
By Carrie Seleman
I'm supposed to be writing a blog post “reflecting” on my experience, but reflection isn’t enough, so I’ve changed my assignment. I’ve been acting on my experience, and I’m writing this blog post to encourage you to do the same. Weren’t at the conference? No problem! Read on to learn some of the lessons that I took away from YWLC. And, since 2019 is nearly here, set this goal for yourself: Register for next year’s conference. I promise you’ll only regret NOT going.
The Young Women’s Leadership Conference wasn’t about big ideas and ideals that will take decades to achieve. It was about making small changes in your daily life, concrete things you can do today to empower yourself and the women around you. From the moment I boarded my Chicago-to-D.C. flight, I was networking with JWI women. I say “networking” but, by the end of the conference, it didn’t have the stiff feeling you think of when you hear that word. I built true connections with so many women, some my age, some seasoned professionals who have made an incredible impact on our world.
One of the things we heard from not one but two speakers was to write things down. You’re more likely to follow through on things if you've put them on paper, so here goes:
1. Know your purpose.
Before doing anything, you should know why you’re doing it and what you hope to get out of it; otherwise you’re just wasting time. Write down goals, both short- and long-term, all tangible. Once you know your goals, you can create a plan to reach them. Make sure your plan includes having a mentor...
Remember when I said the Young Women’s Leadership Conference was special? Generally, people are asked to speak at conferences because they have a certain expertise that the conference planners want shared with attendees. That’s great – but it’s not enough. At YWLC, the speakers were not only experts, they have a passion for lifting other women up with them. These women were so genuine and were truly there for us. They didn’t come to the conference because it’ll look good on their CV. They came to meet and empower the next generation and wanted nothing more than to connect with us and share their experiences. Whether you were at the conference or not, you can still connect with them through JWI’s 1-on-1 Mentorship Program.
3. What are you waiting for?
Alright, you’ve set your goals, made a plan, and met with someone who’s shared her wisdom with you. Now ask yourself: What are you waiting for? The hardest part is actually doing it. You're waiting around for the magic number of people to tell you you’ll succeed, that it’s a great idea. Well, guess what? There is no magic number. And you don’t need anyone’s permission but your own.
This is just a starting point. I wish I could share all of the tips and tactics – both conventional and not – I learned at the conference. (In the latter category I would include this one: have a secret signal with your women coworkers to use when one of the guys is mansplaining or taking credit for an idea that you presented first, so a woman can jump in and give credit where credit is due.) I guess you’ll just have to find out for yourself at the Young Women’s Leadership Conference 2019. See you next year!
Carrie Seleman is a 2019 JD candidate at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, pursuing certificates in ChildLaw and Advocacy. Carrie was born and raised in St. Louis (go Cardinals!) and moved to Chicago after graduating from Indiana University. Since starting law school, Carrie has worked at the Office of the Public Guardian, representing children who have been abused or neglected, the Juvenile Expungement Help Desk, and the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic. At Loyola, she is the President of the Jewish Law Student Association and the Editor-in-Chief of the Children’s Legal Rights Journal. Outside of pursuing her law degree, you can find Carrie sitting by the lake enjoying the sun or binge watching Gilmore Girls and The West Wing.
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