Dawn20huckelbridge

Paid Leave: How Dawn Huckelbridge Is Fighting for Us All to Have It

How do you deal with rejection in your field?

I think, ultimately, and in advocacy, you face setbacks, and we’ve certainly faced a slew of them, and extreme highs and extreme lows. I think what you do is take the hit, then you take a beat, and you get back up. I think it has to do with conviction, and remembering why you do the work. You have to take the time to take care of yourself emotionally and physically. But you should always go back to the mission and think about why you do the work that you do.

Is there a piece of career advice you wish you’d learned in college?

I would say sometimes rejections are a blessing. Sometimes, jobs or outcomes that don’t make sense at the time will make sense years later. So, even when you feel like you’re off your path, you never know where something will lead you—or what you can learn.

What’s the most valuable career lesson you’ve learned through experience?

I like to say this to young women: Make real friends in the workplace and start young. Don’t just make contacts, colleagues, or social media friends. I found that I was really lucky to make real friends in my 20s, while I was in graduate school and while I was working on the Hillary Clinton campaign. And while the work brought us together, it was the real trust and friendship that sustained us. Now, a lot of those women have run for Congress, served in administrations, led major newspapers. I think if you find people who you trust and respect early, and genuinely support each other, you may just find you’re helping each other find jobs.

What’s the best life advice you’ve been given, not related to your career?

When I was growing up, my older brothers were role models and mentors to me. And they were always pushing me to train harder, to argue smarter, to run faster. I would go running with one of them and he never let me give up when I got tired. He would sit down and he would rest with me. But then he always encouraged me to go farther. I think that taught me that if you don’t win right away, you don’t stop trying. You take care of yourself, of course, but you also sprint harder on the hills. And I think that’s a lesson that I carry with me to this day.

What does the future of advocacy look like? 

It’s hard to say. The stakes are so high for democracy itself. And legislating has become a lot harder in a Congress where there’s very little compromise. It can be frustrating, but I think you have to do your best to succeed in the system in order to see any change.

What makes a résumé or cover letter stand out? 

Passion. Also, I would say good grammar. I really like an Oxford comma. 

Name the people whose Stories you’ll never skip over on Instagram.

I use Instagram in more personal than professional ways. So, I always watch my friends’ Stories. It’s how I keep up with travel and babies. My niece recently joined, and I watch her Stories for her soccer updates. She’s a superstar. 

Fill in the blank: People would be happier doing their work if … 

They knew they had the peace of mind of paid leave.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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