Career Journey: What inspired you to pursue your current career path, and how has your journey unfolded over time?

I’ve always been interested in our government and the political system that we have, ever since I was a kid, biding time at the polls while she volunteered. In college, I knew I wanted to study political science. My freshman year I also took a psychology class to fill a requirement, and I enjoyed it so much that I ended up adding a psychology minor. I enjoyed understanding how our mind works and what could influence us to think certain ways.

My college also had an interesting program on Opinion Research and Election Studies. Once I took a few courses under that domain, it started to fit together for me. My interest has always been about the why – why are people voting the way they do, and what are the factors influencing them? Ultimately, how can we measure this to better understand human behavior? I have found that survey research was the industry that was best exploring these questions.

Mentorship and Advice: Reflecting on your own experiences, what advice would you give to other women aspiring to excel in your field or industry? Have you had any mentors who played a significant role in your professional development?

I would say to think out of the box. Lots and lots of interesting opportunities will come up – thinking back over the last five years, I could have been in 4 different professions. Plan beyond the short term and choose your opportunities wisely, as you won’t ever be able to make those decisions again.

I’d also say to not feel pressured to pursue something because it feels like something you ‘should be’ doing. Careers are built and they aren’t sold with instructions. What matters most is that you’re doing something every day that you’re proud of and interested in.

Second to that, is finding the opportunities that connect you with strong and thoughtful leadership above you. There’s nothing worse than not feeling confident on the ship that you’re on. Regardless of industry, I’ve always performed strongest on teams that have a strong culture of mentorship. I’ve been lucky to have a few great superiors, and two very talented female managers.