|Careers with Hart
with Jay Hart
I was 26 years old and sitting at a long, oval table in the conference room of the 40th floor of a skyscraper in New York City. Across from me sat a 60-year-old male attorney with at least 35 years more work experience than I – the summer associate (intern) – at one of the world's most prestigious international law firms.
At that very moment I had the privilege of sitting in on a brainstorming session, as seasoned lawyers prepared to provide legal advice to one of the world's largest oil companies. The matter happened to combine my two favourite legal subjects; international law and contracts. So, I was all passion and eagerness as my brain worked itself into, and out of, puzzles faster than my hand could furiously scribble notes.
I didn't know anyone inside that boardroom. I had been a legal intern for all of two weeks. I was a young female of colour from an underprivileged background and comparatively inexperienced in this particular field. I would guess that most people would have advised me to sit quietly, hope to go unnoticed and then get stuck into the grunt work. Luckily, I didn't consider most people's advice.
I stuck my hand straight up into the air, locked eyes with the man in charge and asked relevant questions in a firm, even and commanding voice. My contribution was taken seriously. And my questions led to fruitful research that would be used towards advising the client.
I was by far the least experienced person in that room. But I had nothing to lose by asking questions. And when I thought of a question no one else had yet to consider, I was able to add value to our project.
I only spoke when I felt certain that I could add value that no one else was adding. Then I spoke confidently, honestly, unapologetically and humbly. I was unassuming as to what value I might add, if any. But I understood that I just might have something unique to contribute despite the odds stacked against me.
You are also unique. And in every circumstance, you just might have something to share that will add value to your work. So, be brave, speak up and speak confidently. #beboldwithit
Jay Hart is now a Career Coach @ Careers With Hart. Contact Jay at www.facebook.com/careerswithhart