This year was the first time I had ever heard of PLEN, and I can’t imagine what I would have missed out on if I hadn’t ever learned about it. One day at school, the Political Science department had sent out a series of emails about opportunities for the upcoming summer and one had jumped out at me: PLEN’s Women in Global Policy seminar. After reading through the email, I immediately went to the PLEN website and started learning as much as I could about the seminar, and I knew it was something I wanted and needed to be a part of. I was always having trouble with the idea of how I could be successful in my future because I didn’t know what I needed to get there and I knew this seminar would give me the tools to become confident and finally stop doubting myself.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got to the seminar the first day, but no matter what, I knew I couldn’t let my shyness take over. I told myself that if I truly wanted to get anything out of this amazing experience and make the most of it, I needed to ask questions and share ideas when I had them. Never in my life have I enjoyed just listening to a panel of people talk about their lives and experiences as much as I did at the seminar. I found that no matter what the topic was, I could find something that I could relate to myself and my future. I loved the panels because it was first hand advice and stories from successful women who are in the position that I hope to be in one day.
Of the entire seminar, the single greatest piece of advice I needed to hear was that there is no one concrete way to allow you to achieve your dreams. I love to have a plan, however I could never come up with a way to plan out my whole future without blank spots marring it. This was one of the main questions I would ask our speakers, but every time, the responses were the same: there is no one correct way. I learned that planning every step of the my future out exactly is pointless. The future is always changing, new opportunities are always presenting themselves, and there isn’t a master plan in the world with guidelines saying you must do this to achieve that. This realization took a lot of pressure off of myself because I was always comparing myself to what others were doing, and this seminar taught me that I could just let go of that stress that I’m not doing the right thing, because there isn’t a “right way”.
Overall, the seminar gave light to an array of many different career paths I had never considered or even knew existed. I got to listen and speak with individuals who work in all sectors, and learned that each is important. I got to go to the U.S State Department, the Embassy of Spain, and experience life in Washington DC for a week. Most importantly, the Women in Global Policy seminar did not only teach me about policy; the experience of the seminar taught me invaluable lessons I’ll never forget and gave me the confidence I was searching for to know that there is absolutely nothing that can get in my way except for myself.