I wanted to attend the PLEN conference because I wanted to learn about ways to get a first internship and first job in DC. I’m highly motivated, and I already had a career goal in mind. I wanted this conference to teach me how to get to where I wanted to be. I came prepared with questions, but the presenters gave me so much valuable information I did not know I needed. I feel completely prepared after having attended the PLEN seminar. PLEN teaches you the steps to take, and gives you the resourcefulness to anticipate and deal with roadblocks as they come up.
The speakers were amazing. They genuinely wanted to give you insider tips on how to succeed. The PLEN staff members were invaluable. They shared stories of moving to DC and applying to entry-level jobs. They helped me learn to read job applications. Any questions I had – they could answer. PLEN provided a wonderful balance of resources. We had speakers with decades of experience, and we could ask them very sophisticated questions, knowing they had the expertise to answer. We also had examples of young professionals in the PLEN conference staff. I did not expect to value the opportunity to ask very basic questions as much as I did. I would say that the majority of my questions were very practical, though, and the seminar leaders were able to help me with setting up a resume, finding job postings, and locating affordable housing in DC.
Getting to move independently around DC was invaluable. We were empowered to explore the city and get to our meetings on time. We were expected to behave like adults, and that helped me see myself as capable of succeeding. I was challenged constantly to show my best self. Having the opportunity to apply my professionalism gave me the confidence to feel comfortable in a professional setting. Before the conference, public policy seemed like a very intimidating field. I did not think I was ready for it, but PLEN taught me that I have the tools to succeed.
I hope I never forget the examples set by the speakers and the PLEN staff. They are all so dedicated and diligent. If they want something, they make it happen. Before this conference, I let myself be intimidated by applications or practical difficulties. PLEN taught me that if I want something, I need to go make it happen without giving up. Many people have told me not to give up before, but few have demonstrated it. PLEN women demonstrate that constantly. The conference introduced us to the honest difficulties of being a professional woman, but it also gave us the tools and attitude to succeed.
You should attend PLEN if you want to get valuable support and help navigating the process of getting a job in public policy. They give you information that you otherwise would not have access to without having family or friends already in public policy. They are doing great work to ensure that talented, qualified women can succeed professionally. I am so thankful that I was able to attend this seminar. Do not take this opportunity lightly. Make the most of it. It is worth it.
Christy Smith attended the 2016 Women and Congress seminar as a junior at Tulane University.