Ever since I was in high school, I knew that I wanted to pursue an international career in global policy. It had the excitement, as well as the impact, that I was determined to find in my work, along with various skillets that seemed to be my strong suits. However, as one attends career fair after career fair, hearing advice from not only panelists, but from advisers, professors, peers, and parents as well, it is difficult to determine how to go about putting oneself in the best position to be open to opportunity, without losing focus of some end-all, be-all, teleological goal in mind that we think we are supposed to have as adolescents. We think we have to know exactly what we want to be when we grow up, and that there are precise steps to achieve our goals.
PLEN’s Women in Global Policy seminar taught me that the opportunities to pursue projects both domestically and abroad are nearly endless, and that with strong skills and tireless perseverance, anyone can make an impact. Not only do you not have to know exactly what you want your life plan to be when you are an undergraduate, you are not disqualified from anything if you are missing that Ivy League diploma. Put yourself out there, don’t be afraid to make friends, take advantage of your university resources, and don’t expect to be Secretary of State straight out of school. Try new things, you never know what may be behind door number one. It may be the career of a lifetime! But if not, that’s okay too, not every position is a winner, but that also doesn’t mean you didn’t learn or gain anything from that experience. Experiences are what make humans whole. Always say “yes” and take advantage of anything that may come your way. That’s how you see the world, and more importantly, that is how you change it.
Overall, the most important lesson I learned from the mentors was that it doesn’t necessarily manner what job you are doing at the moment, just be great at it and learn from it! Every title is a stepping stone, even if you are unsure of where the path is leading to. The best preparation is to simply understand how to be professional and be someone that people can depend on to produce good work! It is next to impossible to express the gratitude that I have for the PLEN scholarship and for the opportunity to attend a conference ripe with inspiring role models and passionate colleagues. After only a week of self-exploration, career advice, and networking practice, I feel infinitely more confident in my professional capabilities and ready to take on what the world has to offer!