Interview with our first volunteer: Miriam González, Chair of Inspiring Girls International
Name and profession:
Miriam Gonzalez, international and European trade lawyer
What is the best thing of your current job?
That it keeps me constantly on my toes. Every case I get is a new set of problems to solve. One needs to keep reading, being up to date, thinking about new approaches... it is a good way to keep pushing yourself forward.
What was your first job?
I was a researcher at the European Commission IT department. I spent hours summarising European legislation so somebody else could encode summaries into an EU law mega-database. It was a really boring job - but it provided me with my first salary!
As a kid, what was your dream job?
First I wanted to be a doctor, but I found out that I freak out at the sight of blood, so that was not really an option... Then I wanted to be a journalist, a writer, a politician... I changed my mind a few times.
Did you set yourself a professional path to follow?
No, and I do not believe in paths. I have never had a predefined plan. Rather, I have gone with the opportunities as they came up. Sometimes I was not sure whether they would make sense but still I consistently tried to make progress out of every opportunity I encountered. Some have worked, others have not, but they all made me what I am today.
Did you have a role model growing up?
I didn’t really. I grew up in a little village in the middle of Spain. There were not many working women at the time– and certainly none that worked internationally. Later on I worked with women (and men!) that have been a real inspiration at times.
What is the best piece of advice you were given?
The best advice I have ever received was that you should take opportunities as they appear, even if you are not a 100% prepared for them. If you accept a job and you do not like it, or you are not suited for it, there is always time to change. But if you do not try, you will never know whether that job is for you or not.
Who inspires you now?
All those single mothers who kick off the day with tonnes of housework, commute to earn a salary and come back home to carry on working single-handedly, still managing to put on a smile. These are the women who should be on the front cover of magazines!
What would you tell a girl who doesn’t know what to do in the future?
Just try! No job is forever, so try different paths, see what you like and what you are good at. Nobody is expected to have the same job for many years, so use this flexibility to your advantage and don’t be afraid to change. Most importantly, don’t let anybody decide for you – this is your life, so what you do is your decision and yours only.
Success means different things for different people. For me success right now is being able to have a healthy and happy family while fulfilling my professional aspirations. But my definition of success has also changed over time and I am sure that it will continue changing. The important thing is that you listen to yourself rather than to what others tell you.
What do you think is necessary to say you have succeeded?
To have chosen freely what you want to do – even if you have made a mistake.