By Alyson Martinez • September 22, 2017•Careers, Firms and the Private Sector, Nonprofits and the Public Interest, Other Career Issues, Law School, Choosing a Career and Landing a Job, Issues, Mentoring and Networking
I asked for a promotion last Monday. A coworker submitted his two-weeks notice, and I walked into my boss's office, full of nerves and anxiety, and asked her to move me to his spot. Well, there's more to that, let me clarify:
I work as an Assistant Public Defender and I am currently assigned to handle misdemeanor criminal cases of indigent defendants. On November 30, I will have completed two years in the office. I am the longest-serving attorney at my level, and I have built a solid reputation through my work. Well, at least that's what my coworkers tell me.
The attorney who submitted his two-weeks was a assigned to handle felony cases. Those are the big ones: murder, sexual assault, aggravated anything, really. In addition to that, he was in a prestigious court, the first court established in my county of practice. Sounds intimidating, but it was not anything that my (almost) two years of experience couldn't have prepared me for. I was up for the challenge, and my supportive coworkers seemed to believe that it was rightfully mine. I was the Targaryen of this higher court.
So, they brainwashed me and convinced me that I had to campaign for it. "Go talk to her," they said. "You deserve it," they insisted.
I walked over, literally trembling with fear, and I asked the question.
Spoiler Alert: I did not get the promotion. But, if you haven't picked up on my subtle hints by now, that wasn't the point of this post.
Why was I nervous? Why did I have to get convinced to go up to my boss and ask for something that was completely reasonable?
I remembered Jennifer Lawrence's essay on Lenny, and how she states that part of the reason that she wasn't paid equally was because she didn't negotiate enough. She didn't want to be too demanding.
That definitely happened here. I walk around with the idea that I don't deserve things. I don't work hard enough for them. I would like them, but maybe they're not for me. But, they are for me.
I work hard to prove that I am a valuable member of my office. I work hard to show that I am a good attorney, who cares for her clients and wants to see the best results for them. I work hard so that I may advance in my career. I work hard so that I can contribute something to this world, to my community, to my life. When will all that hard work pay off if I am too scared to ask for the reward?
Not to get political, but the election left me with heartbreak. I felt like my worth had been crumbled. As a woman, I felt like I would never be taken seriously. I don't know if my nerves and jitters about my request stem from that feeling. They probably do - I, seriously, cried for three days and any mention of it will still bring me to tears.
Personally, this has to change. I have to grow and accept my worth. I am not an insecure when it comes to so many things, but when it comes to my job it's a whole different story.
As a community, we need to change as well. I am not the only woman who is "too afraid to ask." Full equality will never come if we silence ourselves and hide in the shadows. No one, not even a female boss, is going to look out for you. You have to put yourself first and demand the rewards of that hard work.
It's not a change that can be taken care of overnight, I'm sure the next time I will walk in just as nervous. But, I won't need to be convinced. I know I have to walk in there, I know I deserve it.