On October 16, women gathered in the basement of Teaism to hear Bicky Corman of the EPA recount her career as an environmental lawyer. Not being overly interested in environmental law, I was only mildly interested in what she had to say.
Two minutes into her account of her career, I was fascinated and inspired.
Bicky didn’t have a huge life plan that she’s followed to the letter to get where she is today. She didn’t go to a top tier law school and she didn’t jump straight into high positions. She worked her way up by being good at what she did (and making friends along the way). Bicky commented that one of the most important things in building a career is not just to network, but to make friends who will think of you later. As someone who really hates networking, this was a wonderful way of framing it – and makes networking seem less scary!
Throughout her career, Bicky has worked in both legislation and policy. There is a fine line between legislation and policy, but that line is not made in cement – it’s flexible. You might find yourself working on both legislating a regulation and working on policy at any given time; you don’t have to decide between the two right now. In the same vien, you don’t have to choose what your specialization is right now. You can pick up an area of expertise along the way, following what interests you and what gets thrown your way.
The point that Bicky made that I really loved, was when she talked about the difference between working on a federal level and a local level. Bicky has worked for the EPA and for the District Department of Environment. Bicky remarked that at the federal level you know you’re having an impact, but at the state level it’s more visible. And because of that great feeling, since going to work for the EPA again, Bicky has stayed involved with her local community, tutoring local kids (and inspring them to be environmentalists!).
Bicky was a wonderful speaker. She made thinking about planning a career seem less daunting, and really drove home the idea of getting involved in local issues in my community. I’ve been looking at my job search differently since hearing her speak, and am much less worried about finding that ‘perfect’ job right away. Each challenge will shape me and push me a direction I might not have planned on.
Thanks to Bicky Corman for her wonderfully inspring talk!