Name: Alexandria Hill
Job Title: Senior Associate
City: Jacksonville, Florida
Number of Children/Other Dependents: 2 children; ages 5 and 4 months
Do you think having “it all” is realistic or overrated? Why?
Having “it all” really all depends on your definition of “it all”. If that terms means having a traditional family life (i.e having dinner on the table at 6:00, being at every practice, event, sporting game, field trip, etc.), a high power successful career, and a picture perfect home and gardens house, then you will drive yourself crazing trying to have “it all”. For me, those two words simply mean do I have a happy life. And yes, I have a happy life. We may eat grilled chicken from KFC (check out the nutritional facts, it is actually pretty healthy) more often than I would like and at 8:00 at night. I certainly don’t make every practice and there are times I wish I was more prepared at work. But when I am sitting on the sofa on a Saturday night after a productive week at work with my two kids, my husband, and bowl of popcorn watching the latest Disney special, I can honestly say I have “it all”.
What does having “it all” mean to you?
What is the best advice you have ever received on balancing your personal and professional lives?
People always trying to give the “make sure to take time for yourself” advice, which I cannot stand. To be honest, I don’t think anyone has ever given me really good advice. I just take it day by day.
If you had an extra hour in your day, how would you spend it?
Depends on the day. Do I have a plate full of work that is toppling over? If so, I would spend it trying to get back to the surface at work. Have I neglected my children recently? If so, I would spend it with my kids. Basically, I would spend it trying to keep the balancing act going.
Looking back at when you started in the profession, and knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
Live the way you want to, not how society expects you to.
Do you deal with guilt in trying to balance your personal and professional lives?
Never. If I take time away from work for myself, I know when I come back I will be refreshed and a better employee. If I am at work, I know I am doing it for myself and my family.
What single change do you believe would have the biggest impact on work life balance or quality of life?
Honestly, I have no idea how to answer this.
What part of “balance” do you struggle with?
I actually had to put a great deal of thought into this one. My first inclination is say, I am fine, I balance my life perfectly. But, that would be me living in a false reality and trying to convince myself I have it all together. No one has it all together. While I think I handle the balance between work and family well. I don’t spend time for myself (thus my answer above – I am actually bitter about this) and with that I don’t spend time with my friends.
What part of “balance” are you improving at?
I figure recognizing I have an issue with balancing my personal time is the first step towards improvement.
As a working parent, how do you balance your career and your role as a parent?
You have to make every moment count. My first son was born two days after I finished my last law school exam, one week before graduation, and before I started studying for the bar. For wondering minds, I do not recommend having a child immediately after law school. I remember thinking there was no way I could handle a new born and studying for the bar. At the time, a fellow working mom said to me – “If you want to get something done, ask a working mom”. You immediately learn that you can’t waste time.
How important is civic and/or professional involvement to you and why?
Extremely. I consider it part of the balance. It is important not only to be activity in the community for good will reasons, but also to have something that you enjoy beyond work. With that being said, it is equally as important not to get over loaded. I limit myself to one civic group and one professional group. I am currently the Vice Chair for the Board of Directors of Girls, Inc. Jacksonville and the Treasurer of The Young Lawyers Section of The Jacksonville Bar Association.
What’s the advice you would give a young lawyer seeking to strike a “balance” between family, self, and the practice of law or achieve better quality of life?
First, the advice I hate receiving myself – take time for yourself. Even if it just going to the gym once or twice during lunch.
Second, recognize that you cannot do it all. Once you get over this hump, and realize that you can do what you want to do not what society expects you to do I guarantee you will be at peace with your life.
Any other parting words of advice?
While this doesn’t have to do with balance, it does have to do with being a women in the workforce and is the single greatest advice I have ever received – Learn to drink whiskey neat. I have taken this advice both literally and figuratively and it has done wonders for my career. We still work in a man’s world and rather than forcing that world to adapt to us, we should acclimate ourselves (I can hear the gasps as this is being read). I have learned to drink my whiskey straight so that when I am asked to go out after work with my male colleagues (or boss) I am not the only sitting there with a fruity drink. I have learned that men are going to talk about sports and I need to hold a conversation with them. I will never forget my first big girl gig – I was interning as a financial analyst at Siemens Power Generation. The Comptroller took me and another intern out to lunch. The two men spent the entire lunch talking football, a subject I at the time knew nothing about. I couldn’t contribute at all. I went home that night and told my then boyfriend (now husband) that I needed him to teach me everything he knew about football. I have never been caught in that situation again.