Amy Morrill is Associate Director of Career Advising and Internships for American University’s School of Professional and Extended Studies. Thus, witnessing her students develop their own identity and career choice is her idea of success.
NYMM: How do you define success for yourself?
AM: I define success as being who I want to be on my terms, and I would say that’s often a challenge, but also so rewarding. The discovery of identity guides me personally and professionally. As an internship advisor, I am constantly energized by supporting students in their own quests for that kind of identity search of whom they are and what they want to do.
NYMM: How do you foresee yourself changing in the future? Do you think your idea of what makes you successful will change?
AM: I hope so. Gloria Steinem’s book Revolution from Within closes with an image that resonates with me. She says she can see herself in the future as the person she is trying to be. We’re always in this active motion to try to be who we are. To me, that is all about change, and sometimes change does inevitably mean struggle. I think change can be more easily accepted when one adopts an attitude of open-mindedness. I rely on colleagues, friends, and different resources to help find that balance in the pursuit of what’s next. When it comes to looking toward the future, it does sometimes seem scary, but as I grow older, I have a kind of confidence that often comes with age and experience.
NYMM: What inspires you to be independent and success-driven?
AM: My family, friends, and students inspire me. I especially find passion in my work. I’m really driven to make a difference by supporting students as they learn. It makes my day when someone says, “I was struggling and you heard me. I felt supported, and I was able to gather my strength and move forward for the next challenge.” But I guess, for me, my strength comes from family and friends. I’m an introvert; I get my energy from my downtime with family. They have great values and I feel very fortunate to have family and close friends who are honest and full of integrity and empathy. My inspiration starts with family and friends, and extends beyond that to the community.
NYMM: What would be your number one piece of advice for women entering the professional world?
AM: Be who you are. That may seem easy because it’s just a short phrase, but it’s tricky in a changing world. The media is making headlines now on pay equity for women and how, across the nation, women are earning less than men. But, interestingly, I just heard that in a city as close as Boston, Massachusetts, women are earning a little bit more. There are ways that women can activate their own powers of intuition, strength, and awareness to make change in the world. I think that women hold so much power. One of my favorite writers is Amy Cuddy, a professor at Harvard Business School. I’ve derived a lot of strength from her ideas. She did a Ted Talk about power poses, how posture impacts how we perceive ourselves, and how others perceive us. It’s messages like those that are quite important. Ultimately, when it comes to advice for women, I say to be who you are, embrace who you are, and be comfortable and confident with your own style.
NYMM: In one word, how would you describe your professional career?