PLEN Taught Me that Careers Don’t Need to be Linear 

I was incredibly honored and excited to receive the PLEN scholarship that made my participation in the Women in Public Policy seminar possible. The week of panels, speakers, workshops and site visits gave me so much insight into the field of public policy. Not only did I have the chance to discuss policy issues with experts in their respective fields, but I also learned important career skills. It was very rewarding to have this experience and be surrounded by passionate, intelligent young women who share my interest in public policy. I left feeling inspired by the speakers and my peers, and energized by the skills and knowledge I gained.

The panels and activities covered diverse topics, ranging from health care policy to working on the campaign trail to nonprofit careers. As an undergraduate junior, I appreciated the chance to explore different professions and fields. I now have a much better understanding of what to expect in a public policy job and the different options that are available. Many of the panels addressed topics that I’ve studied in school and gave me important career insight that the classroom could not.

A common theme throughout every panel and site visit, no matter the profession or policy area of the speakers, was the importance of a career that lets you work with people who inspire you. I feel like my week with PLEN was a glimpse into what this is like; it was amazing to be surrounded by such engaged and passionate women. The PLEN environment is unique and empowering.Discussing policy and exploring D.C. with my peers was an invaluable experience and I hope I have the opportunity to work in a similar environment in the future.

One of the most important lessons I took away from the week is that there is not a singular way to build a career. Each speaker shared with us their unique path that they formed by pursuing their passions and being open to different opportunities. I had a preconception that a career should be linear. It was so helpful to hear successful women in policy describe the twists and turns of their career paths. I learned that it is okay to not have a definitive career plan;  it is important to pursue your passions and be willing to work hard.


Anna Bauman attended the 2016 Women in Public Policy seminar as a junior at Tulane University.

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