As I sat at my desk this week, I could not believe that my summer interning with PLEN has flown by so fast. At the beginning of the summer, I set several goals to work towards during the course of my internship. Most of my goals were long term and intangible. I wanted to enhance my writing and research abilities, gain a few skills for my resume, broaden my network, and try to discover my path for after I graduate next May. I’ve always been passionate about politics, but I’m not quite sure of what direction I plan on going in. In my short time at PLEN I feel as if I have accomplished all of these, or at least made some progress.
My research skills have definitely improved throughout the course of the summer from the numerous projects that worked on at PLEN. Being able to edit posts for the blog, along with writing my own, has vastly improved my writing skills as I learned how to write for a larger audience. These skills will be vital in any field I go into.
Much of my time at PLEN was spent working on my personal professional development. After avoiding Linkedin for ages, I finally bit the bullet and created an account. Although this seems insignificant, it was a small yet important step that I needed to make in my transition from college student to young professional. The platform was intimidating to me at first, but I quickly began receiving invitations from classmates and former coworkers. As daunting as networking seems, I’ve learned that I must put myself out there one step at a time. This was just one tiny step before making a big leap into attending networking events and scheduling informational interviews.
One of the most important lessons I have learned at PLEN are the do’s and don’ts of networking. For example, DON’T add someone on Linkedin without sending a message first. DO go out of your way to speak to someone whose career you find interesting. I was encouraged to schedule informational interviews with women in policy and legal careers that I found interesting. Over the past few months, I’ve spoken to women from NVRDC, Alliance For Justice, and Media Matters– three organizations that I would LOVE to work for someday. Speaking with these women also helped me narrow down possible post grad paths. For example, I never realized how fascinating and rewarding some legal careers can be! Informational interviews are also a great way to establish sort of a mentor/mentee relationship.
My experience at PLEN has been truly invaluable. As hard as it is to single out my favorite part of my internship, I do have a few highlights in mind. One of my favorite days at PLEN was when I had the opportunity to attend an event at the National Press Club on the effect that Trump’s presidency has had on female political activity. There was a panel moderated by a Politico reporter where the audience was allowed to ask questions regarding the research being presented. It was fascinating to learn more about this pertinent topic from the writers and hear their answers to questions. I was also responsible for live tweeting the panel!
On another day, I was also able to sit in on a board meeting. It was very cool to be able to witness the inner workings of PLEN as the board discussed plans for the upcoming seminars. So much goes into each seminar to create the most topical and educational experience possible, so it was great to witness one in the making. Finally, I had a blast at PLEN’s networking happy hour. It was so fun to get to meet so many interesting and accomplished women who started their public public policy careers with PLEN! One woman I spoke to said that she wouldn’t even be in DC if she had not attended a PLEN seminar when she was in undergrad.
I am so thankful to have worked with an organization that has changed the lives of so many. In my very short time here I have learned lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
Learn more about interning with PLEN at plen.org/jobs.
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.