I came to college already knowing that I was interested in nonprofits and NGOs. When I heard about PLEN’s “Women Unlocking Nonprofits” seminar, I knew that this would be a great opportunity to hear about these fields directly from professionals and develop a clear plan to help me reach my goals. During the weeks before attending the seminar, everyone I asked about PLEN enthusiastically encouraged me to attend. My college advertises PLEN’s seminars all over campus, my friends who had attended spoke of their positive experiences, and when I notified my professors that I would be attending, they told me about the great reputation that it has and what they had heard from former students who had also attended. Therefore, I arrived in D.C with high expectations, and I certainly was not disappointed.
The seminar schedule was packed with different activities and panels. I learned so much in a very short period of time. The remarkable panelists spoke about everything from their own general experiences working within the field of nonprofits, to more specific details including the differences between nonprofits and NGOs, fundraising, advocacy, and so on. My initial simplistic ideas of what the field was and what working within it would be like were challenged, and I learned quickly that it is a vast sector that accommodates passionate people with diverse interests, goals, and backgrounds.
I am grateful that I was prevented from worrying about having to follow a certain path or have a particular college experience in order to ultimately reach my goals. I now know that I can pursue my interests, no matter what they are, and use the unique skills that I cultivate as I enter the workforce. This was very valuable information to have received as early as my first year, as I am now more optimistic and less apprehensive of the years to come.
Additionally, even as the panels became more and more specific in subject matter, I felt that the information and advice I was getting was very versatile. As an international student, I was looking for career advice that would still be applicable far beyond D.C., and I did. Everything the panelists said was useful to me as I thought about where in the world I might be in the coming years. Additionally, when I told a panelist about my interest in nonprofits and NGOs as an international student, she eagerly gave me more specific advice. I constantly felt fortunate to be in the presence of such successful women who so genuinely wanted to see the participants succeed as well.
All in all, I am so glad that I took the opportunity to attend the seminar. The speakers, the panels, the location, and the benefits that I got from the program were wonderful, and I will be sure to recommend the seminar to others as it was recommended to me.
Khulood Fahim attended the 2016 Women Unlocking Nonprofits seminar as a freshman at Smith College.