Northwestern Women's Leadership Coalition


Symposium Week

The following post was written by Maria Gonzalez, our 1L Communications Representative.

Same grind, different semester. That was my mentality going into my second semester at Northwestern Law. But what I realized was it was a whole different monster. If I could take a time machine and transport myself back to last semester, I would laugh at what I classified as “challenging” or “time-consuming.” The second semester of your 1L year not only brings the challenges of keeping up with reading, classes, and CLR deadlines, but also networking events, job applications, and information interviews. WLC’s Symposium could not have come at a better time.

Centered on the vision of “many women, one profession” there were so many opportunities for the women of the law school to learn more about facets of their identity. There is all this pressure for 1Ls to already have a vision of where they want to live or work. As someone who struggles even with the decision of what to wear in the morning, the definitive nature of the job search process feels overwhelming. But, what I learned from symposium week, is just because you open one door, does not mean all other doors close.

On Tuesday, our Keynote Address with Jennifer Ballard Croft, Chief of Staff to Cook County State's Attorney Kimberly Foxx, truly illustrated that women in law are not bound to any one decision they made for themselves in law school. The work of finding who you are is never done. Ballard Croft chose to never pigeon hole herself or arbitrarily define the boundaries of her career. She dove into Labor Law, even though as a woman of color she was entering into a white and male-dominated field. Ballard Croft, once again, jumped into public life, by running for a judgeship, even though once again it was something she had never planned for herself. That last decision ultimately led her to her current position.

Ballard Croft gave me a stunningly, valuable lesson to not let what others expect from you, nor even what I expect of myself, to limit my opportunities. During Symposium Week, I felt inspired to continue not letting who I am currently define the expectations I have for myself in the future. Throughout the week from Monday’s talk on Private Firm and Government Life to Tuesday’s Pro-Bono Talk, I was welcomed by some many examples of accomplished women, who had bravely moved from one career path to the next.

Symposium Week taught me that “many women, one profession” can also mean “one woman, many professions.” A woman’s identity carries multitudes, and we are not confined to one iteration of our career. There is always opportunity to grow and change, and our careers should reflect the same.  

Samantha Fidler