I stumbled upon PLEN on a job hunting website last spring. I spent last semester abroad in Brussels, where most of my time was dedicated to exploring the city for the best Belgian waffles instead of doing homework or searching for summer internships in DC. Although I loved my internship at a European public affairs consulting firm, I realized this was not the career path for me. Alternatively, I am more interested in nonprofit work, education reform, women’s issues, and human rights. When I learned that I had been accepted at PLEN, I was elated to work at an organization where I could marry these passions.
Despite my jittery first day of work disposition, I was pleasantly surprised by how cool and relaxed the office is. PLEN is based in a WeWork which is a collaborative work space filled with other small nonprofits and startups. While PLEN’s office is small, it is filled with the buzz of discussion between a sociable staff. The professional and productive environment is balanced out by a growing “meme wall,” and the confortable setting naturally fosters conversation. I was a lot less intimidated on my first day at PLEN than by other places I have worked.
Out of all of the work I do at PLEN, I am most excited to assist with the planning of seminars. Although I personally have never attended a PLEN seminar, I will definitely apply in the fall. The diverse programming of each seminar changes each year to ensure focus on the most relevant policy issues. Whether it is STEM or nonprofit work, PLEN ensures the participation of speakers who are experts in their field. In the coming months I will have the opportunity to contact speakers and guests doing amazing work so that each seminar is as nuanced and exciting as possible. As college aged women, the other intern and I fit PLEN’s demographic, making us perfect representatives of the interests of PLEN students.
Before each seminar is planned, a lot of work is done to connect with alumnae and sponsors and communicate with students. As the marketing and communications intern, I work on projects to enhance PLEN’s outreach and social media presence. For example, I create marketing materials and draft posts on social media to advertise to college women like myself. I also edit student blog posts for The Plenary and research relevant organizations for PLEN to partner with, as well as explore better ways to advertise seminars to college women.
At PLEN seminars, students learn professional development skills, and the PLEN staff promotes professional development within the office as well. This past week, I created a work plan with goals ranging from short term tangible summer goals to longer term, more abstract goals. With the help of Hayley, a PLEN staffer, I am going to be working on projects throughout the summer to get me closer to achieving these goals.
Although I have only been at PLEN for about a month, I feel like I have already gained so many new skills. For example, I’ve become skilled at Canva, a graphic design tool used by many businesses. Creating my work plan has built a skill in itself. It is helping me organize myself and gives me something to work up to throughout the summer. It has helped me think critically about my role in this organization and what I can do to make the greatest impact possible. While I may gain a few shiny new skills to add to my LinkedIn, I also plan to concentrate on my interpersonal and professional communication skills, develop a deeper network, and delve further into discovering my career path.
Rebecca Jacobs is a summer marketing and communications intern at PLEN. Rebecca is a senior at American University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a concentration in Gender, Race, and Politics and a minor in Sociology.