Crowns & Contracts

by Susan Pettit

In the late 1980’s-early 1990’s, I was a bright-eyed, naïve law student at Temple University Beasley School of Law absorbing lectures like a sponge.  Like many of my classmates, I worried about grades, passing the dreaded bar exam, and most importantly, what does the future have in store for me in the legal profession? Never did I envision myself working as a Pageant Attorney within the Miss America Organization, Inc.  Did I graduate law school and jump directly into that position?  Only in my dreams.

My career started in the Lehigh Valley.  After searching for employment, I was working for the late Jay A. Scherline, Esquire in 1995.  There were two other attorneys at the firm who represented the Miss Pennsylvania Scholarship Organization, Inc.  My responsibilities centered around estate work, researching and contract drafting.  In my eyes, far from exciting.

In 1996,  Jay Scherline handed me boxes of files, and he said, “The pageant people liked the other lawyers, so they better like you.”  I was officially the lawyer for the Miss Pennsylvania Scholarship Organization, Inc.!  After being thrown into the water, I was determined to ride the wave of success.

My hard work and determination paid off.  I established my own identity in pageant circles.  Today, I now work directly for the Miss Pennsylvania Scholarship Organization, Inc.  People consistently ask me, “What exactly is your job?” “That sounds like fun.” My journey in the legal profession could not be any more exciting and fulfilling.  I draft and negotiate contracts, obtain music/publisher’s clearances, and most recently, I created a scholarship foundation and acquired 501(c)(3) status for it. To this day, I endure early mornings, late nights, weekends, and some holidays.  There are countless galas, after-parties, and pageants to attend.  My network of friends in the Miss America Organization, Inc. extends nationwide.  The most rewarding part of my job is empowering young women and assisting them with educational opportunities through scholarships.  I have seen thousands of contestants earn degrees and have successful careers in law, medicine, politics, journalism, public relations, marketing, and entertainment, just to name a few.
I also asked, “How do you get a job like that or even be successful with it?” Here are five things I have learned along the way:

1. You will not jump directly into your dream job.  Babies must crawl before they can walk.  The same principle applies to employment.  You need to gain skills and experience from typical, simple cases before working your dream job.

2. Networking is your lifeline.  Thousands of people share your dream.  Competition is tough.  It’s even tougher when people perceive the position or company as glamorous.  Many people have experience and contacts.  There may be days you are not motivated to go the extra mile.  Push yourself.  Attend luncheons, dinners, networking events, and cocktail parties.  You never know who will be there.

3. Life is mostly about relationships.  Skills may get you in the door, but good, solid relationships will keep you in the room.  People like dealing with familiarity and what makes them comfortable.

4. Use social networking wisely.  People are watching your social media accounts.  Avoid political, suggestive, and unflattering material.  Wish friends Happy Birthday and extend congratulatory comments to them on life events.  People remember how well you treat them.

5. Be energetic, likable, and smile!  If you receive customer service from someone who appears to be bored, then you rate your experience as poor.  You may not return to the business again.  Energetic, enthusiastic people attract others.  People feed off their positive attitude.

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