After interviewing many PLEN Alumnae about their experiences with PLEN and subsequently organizing their thoughts and reflections into blog posts, it is only fitting that I finish my internship with PLEN by writing about my own PLEN experience. Unlike many of the individuals that I interviewed who participated in a weeklong PLEN seminar during their college years, I joined PLEN right after graduating college this past December as the Marketing and Development Intern. I wanted to combine my newly minted undergraduate degree in government and politics with the leadership experiences I had gained through participation in feminist student groups. As an organization dedicated to preparing college women to pursue careers in public policy, PLEN seemed like a great place to start my own career.
These past five months working for PLEN have been an incredible learning and growing experience for me as a young professional. I transformed from a typical millennial college graduate, unsure of what building a career and being a professional entailed, to a suave and career-savvy professional (okay, this may be an overstatement but I am getting there!). I better understand how to carve out a successful D.C. career path tailored to my professional interests and goals.
I spent most of my time with PLEN marketing its seminars to students via email and social media. I learned the importance of maintaining and strengthening pre-established relationships with various universities and with the individual professors and students at those universities. PLEN has an esteemed reputation, and it was my job to correspond with individuals in a way that would continue to present PLEN as a high quality nonprofit. As I became more confortable in my role as a PLEN intern, PLEN’s high caliber expectations challenged me to perform at my peak level and do my best work.
Throughout the course of my internship I had the privilege of staffing four different policy-themed seminars. At these seminars I heard a wide variety of professionals talk about the trials and tribulations of their career paths and what their jobs entail. Women who work for nonprofits, all levels of the government, unions, businesses, law firms, think tanks, consulting firms, and more all shared their personal professional stories. I now have a much more concrete understanding of the Washington, D.C. occupational landscape and how one navigates its expansive terrain.
Working for a small non-profit, I got to see and participate in the many aspects involved in nonprofit management. From brainstorming seminar panel and site visit ideas to database maintenance, I am now familiar with the behind-the-scenes work that allows PLEN to operate smoothly and efficiently.
Most importantly, everyone involved in PLEN is steadfast in their dedication to PLEN’s mission of bringing more women into the policy arena. At the end of the day, it was the idealism imbued in everyone connected to PLEN that made this such wonderful place to intern. PLEN is unique in its nonpartisan approach, sending the message to women from both ends of the political spectrum and everywhere in between that their voices deserve to be heard and they have what it takes to launch a successful and impactful policy career. The energy the PLEN staff and students have is infectious; empowering women is a gift that keeps giving, as former PLEN students return as accomplished professionals and volunteer their time to empower the next cohort of PLEN women.
My experience interning with PLEN was the best introduction to Washington, D.C. I could have asked for. I am excited to figure out the next steps in my career and plan to remain involved with PLEN through its vast network. I look forward to the day when I have the career and know-how to give back to PLEN as a mentor, speaker or donor.
Ahuva Sunshine interned with PLEN in 2014. Find out more about interning with PLEN.