Some of these women were studying. Some were in their first year or so in the workforce.
Some were doing both and still had time to think about what sort of impact they want to have on the world!
Here are some of the questions they asked and some of my answers.
Side note. I still class myself as a young women and don’t profess to have all the answers.
How can we connect to people to help us get started?
If you’re interested in a particular job or supporting a specific social cause, how do you get started?
My advice was to be bold. Have a look online and find someone who has a job you want, or works in an organisation you are interested in supporting, and invite them for a coffee. No matter how senior they are, I’ve found most people are open to sharing what they’ve learned.
Also, take a look around and seek out potential mentors in your existing workplace. In my first job there was a Director who was a strong female role model in the workplace for me. She showed me what women in leadership looked like and pushed me to look at career opportunities I may have thought out of my reach otherwise.
This has happened throughout my career. These people are around you and can help you develop the tools and networks to make whatever impact you decide is meaningful for you. Seek them out and learn from them as you progress. Ask them to meet for a coffee. Ask them to be your mentor. Be bold.
How do you stay motivated when working on tough topics?
Working to better something in the world or your community can be overwhelming at times, particularly when looking at serious public health issues that need long term focus such as eating disorders or suicide prevention.
So how do I stay motivated?
Last night when I shared a little about The Butterfly Foundation’s work I was humbled to find out from one of the women at the table that, thanks to Butterfly’s school workshops, her little sister reached out for help and is now in recovery.
This is how I stay motivated. Hearing stories like this and meeting the people who are directly impacted by the work you do keeps you going. It reconnects you to outcomes rather than the outputs you sometimes feel focused on at your desk each day. Step away from your desk and go and talk to people.
What is some advice that helped you early in your career?
I remember someone saying to me years ago, “You think way too much, just enjoy the lightness of life”.
Most of us want to leave the world in a better state than when we found it. We want to be part of positive change in society. But, as my friend pointed out to me, you don't have to spend every minute of your life 'making a difference' or trying to save the world.
Sometimes your emotional energy needs to go 100% into just having fun. Just good old light hearted not-making-a-difference-to-anyone’s-life-but-your-own fun. If we all take care of ourselves first, this too can make a meaningful impact. In fact, I would argue that taking care of yourself is the only way you will be able to sustain a lifetime of giving back to others in your community.
It was an absolute pleasure meeting these young women and hearing some of the things on their mind when it comes to work, life and community responsibility. As always, some great food for thought for me too.
Enjoy the lightness of life this weekend friends!