Mikecia Witherspoon '12, Deputy Chief of Staff to Philadelphia Mayor, on Her Burgeoning Career in Government
Posted November 12th, 2019 at 11:03 am
Philadelphia native Mikecia Witherspoon '12, Deputy Chief of Staff for Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, has made improving her city a personal and professional priority. She'll be on campus Nov. 14 for the Communications and Media Meet Up (register on Handshake).
In the below Q&A, Mikecia, who majored in political science, talks about her career, her advice for current students, and more.
What's a typical work day?
This is such a difficult question as none of my work days are the same (which is something I love about my job). Some days I'll have back to back meetings with City departments on legislative issues, and then there are others where I won't have a single meeting at all, so I'll sit at my desk to catch up on emails, work on legislative reports and track legislation.
What's surprised you most about the work you're doing?
The most surprising thing about my job is just how much I had to learn by doing. While I understood the different levels of government and the legislative process at each level, I learned much more by sitting through City Council hearings and meeting with elected officials on their legislation. There are so many soft skills that I use for my job—like relationship management—that cannot be taught, so I had to hone those skills while actually employing them. Perhaps it was naivete, but I didn't realize beforehand that actually doing the job is what would make me better at it.
What are your plans for the future?
I have recently made the transition from focusing on local legislation to state legislation, so I think I'd like to continue to work in this area and potentially pursue a career as a lobbyist. I absolutely love working for the Mayor, so I don't have any plans on leaving soon.
What part of your Bryn Mawr experience has been most important to your professional development?
As a women's college, Bryn Mawr provided such an empowering space for me to express myself as I learned and grew academically. I became very accustomed to offering my perspective in class and engaging in intense debates with those with opposing ideas. Working in a field that has typically been dominated by men who do not look like me, I often have to speak up to express my perspective and ideas. Fortunately, my Bryn Mawr experience gave me the confidence to tackle impostor syndrome head on, and be confident when engaging in debates at work.
What career advice do you have for current Bryn Mawr students?
Intern as much as possible. Once you graduate you'll be applying to jobs that want "work experience," and the best way to show that you have that experience as a recent graduate is to point to the internships you've had during your college career.