Jessica Bacal Quotes
“This was the experience that taught me that wherever you go, whatever job you take, you always want to be working on boosting your career skills, not in the hopes that you’ll get a reward from your current company or boss—because they might not be there one day. Instead, you almost need to see yourself as a freelancer, building skills and capabilities to take with you to the next job and the next job and the next job. That’s your toolkit, and you should be adding to it all the time, because you can’t rely on a company to take care of you and nurture you and bring”
“What really made me leave, though, was not a lack of promotions or tenure—they ultimately tried to give me both. It was the lack of accountability in the research we were doing. I was supposed to be satisfied with just writing papers on how robots could help kids with disabilities achieve basic, everyday tasks, and I thought, “My God, there’s a market there. There’s a need for this technology. How can I do research on these kids and look the parents in the eye when they ask, ‘So how can I get a robot like the one we’ve been testing to make my kid’s physical therapy fun?’ How can I tell them, ‘There isn’t one’?”
“The lesson is: resistance is just resistance. If you make a conscious decision not to pursue your idea, that’s one thing. But unless somebody says, “No, don’t do that,” it’s not a no. And if you allow yourself to be dissuaded without actually hearing that no, then you may end up feeling like a victim and feeling resentful at work.”
- Description: Jessica Bacal directs the Wurtele Center for Work & Life at Smith College, an independent women’s college in Massachusetts with students from every state and from 60 countries around the world. The center’s programs teach leadership skills, life skills, stress reduction and reflection, asking students to think about questions like: What is your story? Where have you been and where are you going? What matters to you? What skills will help you to pursue what matters? What do you do if you don’t know the answers?
Mistakes I Made at Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting It Wrong emerged from her experiences with students, and from her own steep learning curve as she transitioned into higher education. You'll find articles about Bacal's work on Inside Higher Ed, HuffPost Women and The New York Times blog "The Choice." Before coming to Smith, Bacal was an elementary school teacher in New York City, and then worked as a curriculum developer and consultant. She received a bachelor's degree from Carleton College, an MS.Ed. from Bank Street College of Education and an MFA in writing from Hunter College, part of the City University of New York. She lives in Northampton, MA with her husband and two children.