I had made it a point that for 2016 I would focus on making connections in order to gain a career in politics. I searched and found the Public Leadership Education Network and made a point of attending one of the seminars. The Women and Congress seminar appealed to me because of my interest in politics. As an entry level public servant funding my own way through school, I did not have the finances to attend the seminar, nor did I have the confidence to apply for the scholarship. I muted that voice in my head that said that I would not receive the scholarship and applied. When I received the notification that I would be able to attend, I was overwhelmingly gracious and excited that I was fulfilling the promise I had made to myself to make connections.
Throughout my time at the PLEN Women & Congress seminar the excitement never went away. One thing that stuck out to me was that all of the women I met seem to have taken a leap of faith to follow their passion for politics. In order to become successful, some had to relocate across the country and settle in our nation’s capital without a confirmed place of employment. Others joined a campaign of a candidate, unsure of how long they would have a job. But yet they all were accomplished women with impressive resumes playing important roles in government in diverse fields.
Another noteworthy aspect of the women I met was that all of them did not feel tied down to one area, politician, or group. They had the confidence to move around to find a career that best fit their needs and desires. As a graduate student aspiring to pursue the frightening and unstable yet thrilling and rewarding path of a politician, the stories of the women I met instilled in me the confidence to pursue my dreams. Prior to attending the PLEN Women & Congress seminar, I almost gave up on my dream. I had almost decided to stick with my current place of employment and work hard to advance, although it was not the career path that I genuinely desired. PLEN Women & Congress fueled me with the self-assurance to not settle for familiarity and comfort and to take that leap of faith after graduate school to pursue a career in politics.
Justine Billups attended the 2016 Women and Congress seminar as a graduate student at CUNY Baruch College.