PLEN Seminar Introduced Me to My Future

Manoa Ralison Rakotoson, Illinois Central College, Sophomore

The Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) seminar gave me confidence. It reminded me the value of my studies, yet it connected me to my dream career and to other careers that I had no idea existed. This seminar went far beyond what I was expecting.

Originally from Madagascar, I had been through a lot of changes while I settled in the United States. That was part of the reason for my confusion. Being brand new in college was not easy for me. Being a new student in a foreign country and trying to figure out which career I would like to jump to was hard but the PLEN seminar Women in Global Policy solved this issue. It gave me a way to overcome this challenge by teaching me how to make connections. While I am not quite sure yet what I would like to do after my studies, the major keys are staying occupied and engaged, keeping communication and writing skills at an outstanding level, investing into your passion, and helping other people as well as knowing your value. Panelists taught me that any job is significant, even though I may think it is not. My handiwork and my contributions affect others in many ways. For this reason, I have to put all my effort in it as no task is too small. For instance, people may think that a clerk position is not a decent job but if a single photocopy went wrong, it would ruin a meeting. Not everybody has this vision, luckily for me, I had this opportunity to step up to the success.

Before this seminar, I had no idea how public policy works in the United States. Therefore, I could say that PLEN generously helped me through giving me this scholarship and satisfying my curiosity. In fact, I am proud to say that the seminar turned out excellent. The staff, as well as the panelists, were women who greatly inspired us and explained the value of a good education. The seminar was wealth of information in which panelists do not simply tell us what we can do, they oriented us to the steps we should take to reach our goal. They shared relevant issues concerning their appropriate domains, for instance, the issues related to the State Department, or the global Refugees.

Thankfully, I obtained this great opportunity to attend the PLEN seminar about Women in Global Policy where I met amazing college women, some who were currently graduated, some were freshmen and confused about their future. But all of us could take a big lesson from the panelists that PLEN kindly presented to us. Other than that, all the programs that I attended were mind blowing and varied from a Making Connections Course – Networking 101, salary negotiation – to the site and Embassy Visits. Throughout all those programs, there was no time that I was felt unfocused on all of the diverse topics. Students should be open to many different subjects and learn as much culture as possible to improve their communication skills as well as their networking skills. Knowing yourself along with your interaction with others makes your emotional intelligence succeed which is a must for a great female leader.

Panelists devoutly encouraged us to be willing to take risks and reminded us that we have choices for our career path. They taught students to not shy away from their uniqueness but to take it for their advantage.  They mentioned as well that listening is the best skill for success in foreign policy as it develops empathy, friendship, and connections with one another despite cultural challenges.

Women and Global Policy seminar highlighted the importance of women making changes in public service, specifically in foreign policy in which a long term impact is the goal. I learned that diplomacy and negotiation could be as simple as responding with wisdom and turning people’s words into something positive. If you are a student out there who embraces diversity, seeks connections and needs orientation to your future, this seminar is the one I would recommend to you.