Interview with Emmeline Widjaja ’11
Emmeline Widjaja graduated from Claremont McKenna College in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. After graduating from CMC, she attended Harvard Law School and is currently in her final year. She previously volunteered at the Alliance for Children’s Rights, where she became interested in how the US legal system protects children’s rights. This past summer, Emmeline was a summer associate at Shearman & Sterling LLP, a large law firm based in New York City. She will be returning to the firm as a full-time associate this Fall after graduation. In the following interview, Emmeline shares her interest in the Berger Institute, her concerns regarding work-family-children issues, and words of advice for CMC students.
How did you first hear about the Berger Institute of Work, Family, and Children?
I heard about the Berger Institute while I was at CMC. However, I didn’t become familiar with it until Professor Kanaya, who was not only my professor and advisor at CMC, but also someone I really looked up to, approached me with the possibility of becoming an alumni board member. After speaking to her and reading more about what the Berger Institute does, I realized that it would be a great fit.
What work-family-children issues are you personally concerned with?
As a future associate at a large law firm in New York, I’m concerned about balancing professional demands with personal/family responsibilities. Corporate law is an hours-intensive field where the schedule can be unpredictable. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance in such a profession will be a challenge.
What interested you in becoming a board member of the Berger Institute?
I had an amazing experience at CMC as a student. I want to stay involved with the community and the people I worked with. I also believe strongly in the Berger Institute’s mission to better understand the nexus of work and family. Only by collecting and examining more data can we get a grasp on the issues real people face in the workplace. And only with such an understanding can we hope to help them manage the challenges of work-family balance.
What do you hope to accomplish as a board member?
My goal as a board member is to help spread the word about Berger and its mission. I want to contribute to ensuring that Berger continues to have the means to conduct research, particularly on issues related to professional women. This will enable us to craft policies that will address macro-problems like the lack of women in high-level management positions.
What advice can you give future CMC graduates on balancing life and work?
Use your common sense. CMC graduates are high achievers who have succeeded because they are smart, talented, and driven individuals – but they also have good judgment. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to any work-life problem. Everything is situation-specific. But as long as they use their judgment and common sense in balancing life and work, I’m sure they will do fine.