Work and Money
Finding Your Dream Through Mentorship
By Cassandra Willard, Esq.
As a Girl Scout, I learned the vital importance of being courageous.
I grew up in a small hometown in north central Ohio. In high school, I boldly mailed a letter to an attorney for support on an assignment. It was far before Google, and I wanted a topic expert. To this day, I am eternally grateful for boldly reaching out. I remember him explaining all of the fundamentals of his practice and the process to become a lawyer.
As an aspiring first-generation attorney, he explained to me that he couldn’t teach me how to be a female in his industry. He was part of a legal legacy. His eyes showed that he couldn’t imagine the challenges I would face.
A decade later, I felt like a fish out of water as I returned for a quick visit, now a partner at my entertainment law firm. I recall his face beaming with pride, in what was now his courthouse, as I shared the good news and expressed gratitude.
Do Something Amazing to Make Him Proud
A few years later, I got the heartbreaking news that he had passed away. I was told to “do something amazing in your field to honor him, to make him proud, and to give someone a chance they might not have otherwise had.“
Today, mentorship is a main focus. Had my letter gone unanswered, I do not know where I’d be today. In 2020, we have seen how the world can change in mere moments. The best plans can vaporize, but our circle of friends and colleagues is what gets us through.
"In this time of social distancing, I would challenge you to connect and pay it forward to someone looking for a vision in 2021."
When I was in grade school, I never would’ve thought that I would be honored to serve on the board of directors for the Girl Scouts of Citrus Council in Orlando one day. A thousand miles away and decades later, things I never knew were an option became a reality. It felt like home from the very first moment. You could call it luck or a series of well-made choices, but I realize that my circle was the most important foundation to my success. From sounding boards for personal or professional support systems, your circles help shape and support your future.
In this time of social distancing, I would challenge you to connect and pay it forward to someone looking for a vision in 2021. A call or virtual coffee can open the door for the next girl sitting in a small hometown, looking at the expected, and dreaming of the impossible. The one thing about the future is that we can’t with 100% certainty prescribe what will happen tomorrow, but if we make good choices and help support others, maybe, just maybe, we can make that uncertain tomorrow just a little bit better for that dreamer.
Cassandra Willard, Esq., an attorney and professor, supports entrepreneurs through representation, education, and advocacy.
CircleAround is partnering with NAWBO (the National Association of Women Business Owners) in a series of posts exploring the following prompt: "What comes next?" Founded in 1975, NAWBO is the unified voice of over 10 million women-owned businesses in the United States.