4 Important Life Lessons from PLEN

When I made the decision to attend a PLEN seminar, I previously had little interest in engaging with the world of policy or government. I decided to attend so that I could learn about a new topic of interest—public policy. I had no idea how PLEN would further contribute to my academic experience since I will graduate in May 2017 with a Biology and Psychology double major and a Women’s Leadership Certificate. I was one of the few women who did not have a background in law, political science, policy, or government, so I was skeptical at first. I could have never been able to predict that I would learn so much from the PLEN Women in Public Policy seminar.

  1. Network, network, network!
    • You have got to network. Do not be intimidated by the process—if someone is at a networking event, they want to hear your story and meet new contacts. Also, you already have a network—build on it. Talk to your current professors, classmates, and friends. Ask them to connect you with someone else and find common interests—then ask if they know anyone you can talk to. Always say thank you and follow up immediately.
  2. Coffee (or hot chocolate)
    • What better way to get to know someone than over a delicious beverage? Ask to meet up for coffee—or in my case, hot chocolate—and just talk. Ask questions, but let the conversation flow. For the most part, professors and staff at college want to share their experience and provide tips to succeed. Ask your academic advisor, a librarian, or favorite instructor about their background. You might be surprised by their journeys, and how they ended up at their current role.
    • You are already an amazing person—just remind yourself of what inspires you when you are feeling down. Be loud and proud—at least people can hear you!
  4. What did you say?
    • Say YES more often than you say no—try a new activity, attend a PLEN seminar, introduce yourself to a stranger, attend a PLEN seminar, listen to a different perspective, and did I mention that you should attend a PLEN seminar?


As a first generation college student, and the eldest of six children, I was unaware of the value of internships. However, a number of the inspiring panelists and speakers at WPP got to their current role by starting out with an internship in DC. They might seem like a hassle, and the paperwork might be intimidating, but this is another great opportunity to network— specifically with the Career Development staff. Just strike a power pose, take a deep breath, and walk into the office to explore internships that appeal to you (or help you decide what not to do…). PLEN exposed me to a world of opportunities, possibilities, and inspiration. I have been empowered to do so much. I was surrounded by like-minded women with a passion for continuous education, exploration, and empowerment. PLEN provides a platform for women to engage and develop into well-rounded citizens and engage with inspirational role models.





Maryem Aslam attended the 2017 PLEN Women in Public Policy seminar.  She graduated from Chatham University in 2017 with majors in Biology and Psychology and a Women's Leadership Certificate.

One thought on “4 Important Life Lessons from PLEN

  1. Maryem, So happy Plen made an impact on your life. My husband and I support
    PCWP and love to hear comments such as yours. You seem like someone who
    eventually could make a mark in politics.
    Bonnie VanKirk

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