Victoria Asikis radiates authenticity with a passion for her practice and energetic good vibes. It wasn’t always smiles and twinkle lights in the office, however. Through her relentless pursuit of reaching her ambitions, Victoria understands what it is like to hit the proverbial rock bottom career-wise, yet she managed to make it out with a job she loves.
From a young age, Victoria knew she wanted to be a lawyer. More accurately, she wanted to bypass the lawyer stage and become a judge. She had always had a fiery, feisty personality and didn’t really care what others thought of her. This confidence lent well to the idea that she could go into litigation, which was part of her broader practice in her first few years of being called to the Bar in Ontario.
Rejection is redirection.
After finishing her articling term at Pallett Valo LLP in Mississauga and not getting hired back, Victoria was on the hunt for a new job. At the time, in 2016, Gowling WLG (“Gowling”) in Ottawa was looking for an associate with a practice focused on advertising, and product regulatory law. It seemed like the position would mesh well with what Victoria was looking for in terms of integrating her lifestyle as a runner with her career. After all, who better to work on the legal side of products such as supplements and foods than a consumer herself? As great of an opportunity as it was, Victoria didn’t end up getting the job but instead went on to work for smaller regional firms in Toronto. Fast forward to 2019, Victoria got laid off from her second firm and fell into a dark period of unhappiness.
Getting laid off was a low point for Victoria. Despite knowing that she’d find a job at some point, those weren’t the words she wanted to hear at the time. It was difficult for her to overcome this period in her professional career but having done so, Victoria is able to sympathize with others who go through similar circumstances. She thinks that the legal field generally has done a satisfactory job of addressing mental health issues in the workplace, but there is always room for improvement. She also thinks that more conversations must be had regarding pre-existing mental health issues, in addition to those that may develop later in one’s career. In hindsight, Victoria knows that it is completely alright and fair to sit and stew in your feelings for a bit. She also understands that good things come when you put in the work.
Slide into the DMs and shoot your shot.
Three years after that initial interview with Gowling, Victoria left Toronto and joined the firm as an advertising and product regulatory lawyer in the Ottawa office where she remains practicing today. Throughout those three years, Victoria knew what she wanted and worked towards making it happen. She’d touch base with HR at Gowling every once in a while to let them know that she was still interested in the position and that she was ready to pack up and move to the capital the next day given the opportunity. It all worked out, which is why Victoria encourages others to “send that email [because] you don't know where it's going to get you, and that will help you be relentless in that pursuit,” regardless of what it is that you want – career or otherwise.
Four years into her current practice, there are still challenges of having had to learn an entirely new area of the law as a third-year call, but that is just the nature of making a lateral move and Victoria could not be happier. Her job entails formula reviews and label reviews, as well as licencing for consumer products such as natural health products and over-the-counter drugs, and reviewing labels and claims related to textiles, jewelry, household products, and electronics. A lot of her work is also related to the food and beverage industry. Victoria gets to work with brands whose products she actually uses and even gets some behind-the-scenes insight of what’s to come.
“You're not stuck doing what you're doing forever,” Victoria says, “you might not be an expert at it. You might have to take a pay cut because you're starting from scratch, but … you can do different things. You can learn them, and you can really thrive. You don't have to be doing [the same thing] from when you're 18 until when you're 65.”
“Be yourself, be weird, be strange.”
Part of the happiness Victoria exudes comes from maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Admittedly, it’s not always easy to find a balance during some periods of the year, but when she can, Victoria makes plans at least once a week to feed her social meter; whether that be dinner with her partner, an event at a downtown hotspot, or lunch with her coworkers at the local pub – and yes, work adjacent fun does count! She also maintains an active and healthy lifestyle as a runner, and has two marathons under her belt, plus one in the works.
Victoria is also an active user of LinkedIn where she shares the best food spots to check out in Ottawa (as a resident of Nepean, she is a Merivale Road enthusiast) in addition to life and work advice. If there’s one thing to take away from her posts and the way she approaches all aspects of her life, it’s to enjoy it while you can and above all else, be authentic. Besides, who knows what will happen tomorrow? So, join that yoga class; go mountain climbing; get tattoos and show them off. Do all the fun stuff and continue to have a good time. As Victoria likes to remind herself and others: Don’t stifle yourself into fitting in a mold. You’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, so you might as well let your quirkiness shine and live life the way you want to. Your happiness in life and in your career will follow.
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