Cultivating a Steady Mindset with Ann Marie Lewis

In this week’s episode, we speak to Ann Marie Lewis about her educational path and career experiences. We talk with Ann Marie about her journey from being an undergraduate student at  Indiana University Bloomington to pursuing a Juris Doctor degree at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. We speak to Ann Marie about how her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree has influenced and enhanced her career at the Senate Counsel at the Minnesota State Senate, how a steady mindset prevails, and what resilience means to her.

Currently, Ann Marie serves on the Senate Counsel for the Minnesota State Senate. The Minnesota Senate is the upper house of the Legislative of the U.S. State of Minnesota and is the largest upper house of any U.S. state legislature. Ann Marie explains her passion is in passing bills and legislation that help all Minnesota residents. We discuss how having a balanced, positive mindset carries through her work and life. Additionally, Ann Marie speaks to how resilience ties into everyday life.  


Participate in Themester 2021 — Resilience

Season 5 of All Careers Considered is produced in conjunction with the College of Arts + Sciences Themester 2021 on Resilience. One way you can participate in Themester is to attend a Themester event.


Transcript

Jasmine: Hey Hoosiers Welcome back to the All Careers Consider Podcast hosted by the Walter Center for Career Achievement, the Career Service Center that specifically serves students and alumni in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington. We are on a mission to help you achieve career success by supporting you in your pursuit of impactful experiences designing your life sharing your story and building meaningful connections. My name is Jasmine Mercado and I am an undergraduate student working for the Walters Center for Career Achievement with an amazing team of undergraduate and graduate students who you will hear from in subsequent episodes of this podcast.  

 Next up in this week’s interview with Anne Marie Lewis, who is currently serving on the Senate counsel for Minnesota State Senate, Ann Maire pursued her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology at Indiana University Bloomington before obtaining a Juris Doctor degree at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, we speak about the importance of loving what you do, keeping calm and collected through tough times and how we can tie resilience into our everyday lives.  

Jasmine: Thank you so much for being on the podcast. You’re so incredibly delighted to have you. I know that you’ve had such a phenomenal career in the Minnesota State Senate, which has to be one of the most interesting place of employment I’ve ever heard in. To begin how did you choose your field of study? What motivated you to pick the industry that you’re currently in? 

Ann Marie: Well, finding my way here to the Minnesota Senate was really by chance. Right after college, I went to law school, and worked for a couple years in a traditional law firm. And then I wanted to move away from St. Louis, where I went to law school and was working and found this job that I have now in the paper. In the Minneapolis paper. It’s something I never knew existed, and any point in my education, but I’ve been in the same position. 20 plus years.  

Jasmine: Wow.  

Ann Marie: So totally my jam! 

Jasmine: And in the newspaper. That’s so, oh my god, what are the gods?  

Ann Marie: Yeah.  

 Jasmine: So how would you say your psychology degree has influenced and enhanced your career in the Minnesota State Senate? 

Ann Marie: Sure. I feel like psychology background has helped everywhere. Just really kind of dealing with people in the you know, the legislature, there’s 67 senators ready, say 67 different personalities. And you have, we have to work with all of them in our office. It’s a nonpartisan office. So it doesn’t matter what party anyone’s in, you just work on our subject and help every single person that the legislature and the body that needs it. And so, you know, definitely a psych background and understanding of their personalities and different ways of communicating. It’s been very important. But I can see how it’s even more important. We’re working with so many different individuals with different backgrounds.  

Jasmine: Absolutely. And also, I imagine the sociology degree helps them there as well. Right as an institution. Yeah. 

Ann Marie: Exactly. Exactly. 

 Jasmine: Amazing. So, I wanted to ask you about our theme for this podcast semester, which is resilience. So, what does resilience mean to you? 

 Ann Marie: Yeah, to me, it’s being able to bounce back, don’t let the things that maybe the roadblocks actually block you, figure out how to get over them or around them. And I think, I feel like I’ve always had resilience in that. But it comes from determination. So like, I want to get to where I’m going. 

Jasmine: So, what do you think resilience means to the work that you do in the Minnesota State Senate? How do they exemplify resilience? 

Ann Marie: Yeah, so a lot of times, I think you have to in this work, you can work on a really huge project, maybe for even a long time, and it goes nowhere. So you can’t let that say, like, you know, because the work product at the end, you know, the builder apps or, you know, whatever it is that somebody, it’s not mine, in the sense that, you know, I’m not the one I’m not the legislator, I’m not the one who’s bringing this home to constituents, or I’m the one who helps them filling their ideas with the legislation that they need to get it into fruition. So I always say it’s like this. This isn’t mine. This is not my baby. You might call it my baby, because I’m the one who spend a lot of time on it, but it is not my baby. 

Jasmine: Right. And when you hit those roadblocks when you’re just working on this bill, and it doesn’t get passed, and you just feel a bit defeated. What motivates you to keep going, what do you reach in and find that motivation to keep on going and keep on trying? 

Ann Marie: Sure. A lot of it is it’s really interesting work. I kind of like being behind the scenes. And in our position, I see a lot of stuff that nobody else sees. You know, the a lot of things are public, but a lot of I’d get into the private meetings, and it’s super interesting because like, I am the fly on the wall a lot of times. 

Jasmine: Right. 

Ann Marie: And I love that. 

Jasmine: Yeah. So, is it the passion for work?  

Ann Marie: I think so passion of work, and I do love the people. It’s just a really fun clinical environment. So that makes it just even more enjoyable, so yeah. 

Jasmine: Yeah, and especially during these times, you know, with COVID-19, what advice would you give to current IU students as they try to balance school, the pandemic, and looking ahead to their, to the future. 

Ann Marie: It’s tough. I mean, because I think with, like my work with the pandemic, it’s not the same as the work I was doing, you know, 2019, or all the, you know, years before, and we don’t work in the same way, you know, like zoom meetings. And, I feel like a lot of my job is really more of a personal kind of face to face where you know, you know, get up from a desk and go down the hallway to talk to somebody, and it’s not possible when we are all off remotely. So, I think some of that, in my head, I have to tell myself, it’s not gonna be this way forever.  

Jasmine: Right. 

Ann Marie: So just it`s like, this is a moment in time, it’s lasting a while, but this is not forever. And also, a big thing I’ve been really trying to do is figure out your self-care, what is it that you need? And don’t think that it’s a bad thing to put on your calendar and work around it? Some for me, I need to get out of the house and exercise. I’m doing it whether I have to get up super early to do it. It’s getting done. So figure out what it is. I mean, some people something totally different. But that has helped kind of recenter, myself and other things with all the craziness. 

Jasmine: Yeah, that is a really good point, we put a lot of emphasis on mental health, which is rightfully so. But we need to talk about physical health as well, right? I mean, I’m a big runner, like, like yourself, I love to get out. I love to run. That helps me clear my mind a lot. And I don’t think that that’s been mentioned in the podcast yet. The idea of the role that physical health plays into keeping yourself balanced. 

Ann Marie: Yeah, and I feel like my, that physical fitness stuff, that’s my therapy. 

Jasmine: Yeah, I absolutely agree. So I wanted to ask you about imposter syndrome, which is something that many young professionals experience, looking for a job looking for an internship. And I wanted to ask what advice you would give students as they try to navigate, feeling like maybe they don’t belong, or they’re just not qualified? 

Ann Marie: Well, I feel like you got as far as you’ve gotten. So you have to have confidence in the skills you have that got you there. I mean, you might doubt yourself, but really start dig down and maybe make a list of what skills you have, like, how did I get to where I’m at today, you know, accomplish whatever classes that might have been difficult or other, you know, internships or things like that, but you definitely have skills. So just remember and be competent in those skills. 

Jasmine: Absolutely. So, what are the biggest changes you seeing yourself from when you were at IU Bloomington, to where you are now?  

Ann Marie: Yeah, I think biggest thing is just learning not to take stuff personally. Remember, like, you know, we always talk about constructive criticism. And sometimes I thought, you know, when I was younger, like there was criticism of me as a person, it’s like, no, this is actually supposed to help me get better. I remember just like my writing someone kind of, I’d say tearing it apart. That’s what I thought they were doing in my head, but they were not doing that. They were helping me improve what I’ve done. I proved my work. And now I know it. And now I have to do that for people as more of a senior staff person. But I as the, you know, 20 something year old. I really was like, what did you do?! Horrible. But no, no, no. 

Jasmine: Yes. I think that’s something that I’ve noticed even in myself right now, where it’s like, I would just work so hard on this paper for someone to make constructive criticism comments, and it’s just it feels so personal. It’s not, it’s not at all. 

Ann Marie: Exactly it has nothing to do with me. 

Jasmine: Right. Absolutely. So, what skills do you think are the most crucial in succeeding in your career? 

Ann Marie: Um, yeah, I think that I often say the people skills like that they don’t teach you but especially like, in the sister at the Senate, that is all interpersonal skills. I mean, yeah, I have a law degree. Yes. You know, I have all these other things in my background, but Being able to talk to, you know, the farmer from up north or whomever it’s being able to communicate with all sorts of people. And sometimes in my position explaining something super complex to someone who has zero background in education finance, or you know, and trying to make it like manageable for them to understand quickly, because there’s not a lot of time to kind of mull things over for the members when they have to vote on something. 

Jasmine: Absolutely. Are there any expectations you had about this career path that you found different from reality? 

Ann Marie: You know, I’m not sure what expectations I had, I really didn’t know what I was going to do. You know, because it wasn’t until I don’t think it was until my junior year of college that even thought I was going to go to law school. 

Jasmine: Right. 

Ann Marie: So, you know, and then I didn’t know what kind of career I was going to have out of law school, you know. My dad was a corporate attorney, and so oh, maybe in house counsel, I don’t know. You know, but there’s not that many of those jobs. And there’s only so many companies. And then I did a law firm for a little bit and wasn’t loving it. But you know, it was good work, good experiences. So, I had no and I think I told you earlier, I had no idea that this position that I have existed. So yeah, I kind of had a lot of blank slate, kind of go with the flow. 

Jasmine: Yeah. 

Ann Marie: So, I got here. And then I’m like, oh, this is lovely. 

Jasmine: Yes. And like you’ve mentioned, you’ve been there for 20 plus years. And I wanted to know, is there ever a moment that you wanted to quit? And if so, what kept you going? 

Ann Marie: I’ve never wanted to quit. I do say they call it work for a reason. You know, I’m not going to be a volunteer here. 

Jasmine: Right. 

Ann Marie: Um, you know, yes, you do need to pay me, but I do, I love every minute of it. Every day is different, every legislative session is different. You know, you get new crops, legislators, some of them have ideas that have been, you know, been flushed through in the past. But sometimes this is the year, you know, you never, you never know. 

Jasmine: Right. And what would you say has been the biggest teaching moment in your career so far? 

Ann Marie: Yeah, I think, for me, it was my first job out of law school. It was at a traditional firm doing insurance defense work. So, we represented insurance companies and self insured. And I’ve worked on like auto accidents and slip and fall cases and stuff. And the teaching moment was, that was a job I did not like. I was like, okay, this is not my jam. I’m not doing this for the rest of my life. And so, I think having the experiences of like figuring out what I didn’t like, in a job helped me find, or ask the right questions. I think it’s more that in this job when I was interviewing, so yeah. So it was, especially as I was not someone who came in with an idea of what my career path was going to be. I didn’t know certain things might not appeal to me until I actually did them. 

Jasmine: Exactly. And what would you say has been your most proud moment in your career so far? 

Ann Marie: I think a lot of, um, at my current job, that I’m often like, the calm in the storm, things can get crazy, very heated, and I kind of, I just don’t like let that get to me. It’s like my boss always says like, Ann-Marie you are just, you know, rowing the boat here you are just going easy. Nothing`s gonna tip over. I’ve had some kind of rather demanding chair people to work for that. I can do it. Yeah. It’s not gonna not you know, and I’ve tried to bring humor and all that as well as the calm. 

Jasmine: Yeah, that’s, that’s such a rare and amazing quality. And I think it has a lot to do more to do with resilience than we even imagine. You know. 

Ann Marie: That`s true. 

Jasmine: Yes, being able to have a presence about yourself that like you said, you’re not going to rock my boat. And that is the resilience that we’re talking about a lot this semester. 

Ann Marie: Okay good. 

Jasmine: This is my personal favorite question to ask our alumni. 

Ann Marie: Okay. 

Jasmine: What was your favorite thing to do or your favorite memory about campus when you were a student? 

Ann Marie: Oh, man, there was a ton. I loved IU. I haven’t been back in ages, but I guess there was a couple memories I have. One we would hang out at Mother’s Bears Pizza. The last time I was back on campus, my daughter whose was I think she was like three or four and met up with another college friend and his kid and his wife. And we all went to Mother’s Bears Pizza. Like oh my god, all the memories of sitting over at that table. 

Jasmine: It’s still institution here. I was there last week. 

Ann Marie: Oh awesome! 

Jasmine: Yes, it’s still an institution here. It’s going strong there’s still two of them. They’re right where they used to be, and I had pizza there last week with my mom. It was lovely. 

Ann Marie: Oh yeah. So, the hangout there was a popular one and then I kind of remember one night in the dorm, I lived in Willkie, and we had like, just I think it’s a Friday night like sitting in the hallway our dorm room doors are open. And after dinner we like put on some, I think I can`t remember it was like Barry Manilow albums. We were just having a sing a long in the hallway. 

Jasmine: That’s amazing. The dorm life is really it’s really something different. Willkie is also still a dorm, and it’s still the exact same as when you left it. 

Ann Marie: Oh wow. 

Jasmine: I have a friend who’s an RA in Willkie. So, I spend a good time in the dorm. 

Ann Marie: Fun. Yeah, I moved back, I moved off campus sophomore year, but back in and lived in Willkie junior and senior year.  

Jasmine: Really? So, you lived there three years out of the four? 

Ann Marie: I lived there two years. The last two years. 

Jasmine: Oh, the last two years. Do you know what dorm you stayed in the first year?  

Ann Marie: I was in McNutt.  

Jasmine: Oh wow! Yes, McNutt oh my gosh That’s all the way north side of campus.   

Ann Marie: Yup.  

Jasmine: Yeah, so you were traveling all the way down to the psych building?  

Ann Marie: Yeah! 

 Jasmine: Yeah, that’s such a walk. Well, that was my last question. Thank you so much Ann-Marie. If students have any questions or want to keep up with what you are doing, how can they do so? How can they keep up with you? 

Ann Marie: People just have to find me, email is always good. 

Jasmine: We can definitely connect your Linkedin. If you’re part of the Walter Center Success Network. That’s also an awesome way. All right. Thank you so much. Ann-Marie. 

Ann Marie: Yeah, you`re welcome. 

 Jasmine: We really appreciate having you on the podcast and hearing just incredible things that you are doing. 

Ann Marie: It was my pleasure. 

Jasmine: All right. Thank you so much. 

Ann Marie: You’re welcome. So nice meeting you.  

Jasmine: It’s so nice meeting you. 

By The Walter Center For Career Achievement
The Walter Center For Career Achievement The Walter Center For Career Achievement