PLEN Taught Me Career Paths Don’t Have to Be Linear
Kate Beamon, Graduate Student, University of North Texas
I attend the University of North Texas, which is not (yet) a member school for PLEN. My Women’s Studies Professor had heard about PLEN from students at Texas Women’s University and encouraged our entire class to attend a seminar if we had the opportunity. After looking into the Women and Global Policy seminar that was offered, I knew the networking opportunity was not to be missed.
I can’t say enough about Washington D.C. or the accommodations PLEN organized for us. PLEN’s Program Coordinators were available to us whenever we have any questions and prepared us for our week. We were encouraged to dress professionally and to respect the guest speakers time. I felt lucky to be among other professional young adults who were also looking to start their careers in the international sphere. I met several ambitious women who challenged me to put my best foot forward and make the most of uncomfortable situations. I am grateful for the opportunity to make new friends with my roommates while navigating a foreign city to us.
I was most looking forward to our panels on Human Trafficking and Gender-Based Violence and the Global Environment. Both panels exceeded my expectations and presented opportunities to me that I wasn’t aware of before. The speakers were diverse and gave such great advice. Throughout the seminar, the speakers would impart pockets of wisdom regarding interviewing, resumes, unexpected skills needed in their fields, how they handle work-life balance and their education paths. We were able to meet Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte, who was incredibly engaging and insightful. Without PLEN, I never would have been aware of the multitude of career paths I can take in Global Policy. I was exposed to women who work domestically on refugee resettlement and others who have worked in disaster zones. The advice and perspectives these women shared with us will stay with me forever.
I was most surprised with my site visit to the Friends Committee on National Legislation. We were able to meet a PLEN alumna who shared with us her experiences working in Washington D.C., directly across the street from the Supreme Court! I had never considered myself working in the lobbying sector, but after our tour and discussion, I realized how many opportunities there are to affect change and to do good. The network PLEN provides you with is invaluable and encourages me to work on my professionalism. I really appreciated the talks we had on Networking 101 and Salary Negotiations as well. I learned the value of confidence and knowing what you’re worth. I walked away determined to stand up straighter and to make a stronger effort in networking even if I feel awkward.
I feel like I am still absorbing all the information I received during PLEN’s 2016 Women in Global Policy seminar. Every day was packed with inspiration speakers from non-profits, businesses, the State Department, think tanks and academia. I now remind myself every day that my career path may not have a clear direction at the moment, but not having a plan is okay. Several of the speakers reassured us that they never intended to work in the fields they have found a home in. Career paths change and goals change, and I am grateful for the confidence boost PLEN gave me knowing that career paths don’t have to be linear. I am so grateful to PLEN for the opportunity to meet and network with accomplished women working in global policy.