What I gained from PLEN Women, Business and Policy
Annabel Utz, Sophomore, Smith College
I signed up for PLEN’s Women, Business and Policy seminar on somewhat of a whim. As a sophomore facing declaring a major, I had been contemplating my interests and my future career, and public policy had a nice ring to it. On top of that, women’s leadership and empowerment are very close to my heart and I knew this was my opportunity to be inspired by the hard work and perseverance of successful women. I registered for the seminar immediately after discovering its existence through Smith’s career development center.
Flying to Washington D.C from Smith College in Massachusetts, I had no idea what to expect out of my next three days. I knew that I would learn a lot about careers in business and policy, and that I was going to have to suffer through an awkward networking event, at which I was positive I would be the most unqualified in the room.
But my PLEN experience far exceeded my expectations. As this was the first Women, Business and Policy seminar hosted by PLEN, the group was a small one – about fifteen women. This meant that I got to build personal relationships to and hear the stories of each and every participant in the group. I learned as much from my fellow PLEN alumnae as I did from our incredible panelists. I have since remained in touch with my peers from the seminar, whom I know will continue to inspire and amaze me.
Throughout the seminar, our speakers had endless wisdom and advice to impart. Much of it was highly specific, guiding us in building our résumés, making the most of LinkedIn, networking, and interviewing. But the advice that most resonated with me – the advice that I will carry with me for the rest of my life – is that the climb to success should always be based on the desire to do good and be good. It is all too easy to become caught up in the competition and politics of success, but greater success comes with treating others well and leading by example.
PLEN inspired me to get more involved both in my college community and in our broader global community. Since the seminar, I have secured an internship at the Smith College Center for Women and Financial Independence. Additionally, I joined the board of the Smith College Bipartisan Coalition, a new club intended to establish a higher level of bipartisan dialogue on campus. I hope to soon declare a major in government and a minor in public policy so that I can continue to effect change in the world using my PLEN wisdom.