The Women in Corporate and Nonprofit Leadership seminar in November was the second PLEN seminar I’ve attended, as I also attended the Women in STEM Policy seminar in January of 2017. Attending two seminars has been a really unique experience, and I benefited in so many ways from both, as well as being able to build on what I learned in the first seminar.
Attending two seminars at different points in my college career also allowed me to focus on different aspects of each seminar. The Women in STEM Policy seminar helped me think about how I wanted to proceed academically to empower myself, while the Women in Corporate and Nonprofit Leadership seminar helped me think about connections and the job search. Hearing from women in the STEM fields encouraged me to take more science classes and to not shy away from doing science that I love. I appreciated the reminder that I don’t need to be perfect in my science classes to proceed on to the next level, as many young girls and women are conditioned to think throughout school. I was so inspired by a panel on Women Who Code last January that I signed up for an intro to programming course in Python, which I’m currently in and love the reward and satisfaction of it. Sure enough, just because I wasn’t getting a 4.0 in the class I was questioning whether I was good enough to go on to the second level this spring despite wanting to. It took a reminder during the Women in Corporate and Nonprofit Leadership seminar that women and girls second guess themselves more than men to realize that of course I wanted to take the next level, and I was absolutely doing well enough to go on.
One of the themes of the Women in Corporate and Nonprofit Leadership seminar that stuck out to me was that challenges and failure are integral parts of your path, career wise and academically. We heard from women in powerful positions who weren’t afraid to discuss hurdles and failures in their ‘career jungle gym’ to get where they were today. Our seminar wrapped up on Saturday with hearing from Dianna Flett, Founder and CEO of The Girl Smarts Group, who gave an inspirational talk about communicating with confidence. Her advice on holding yourself seriously and using verbal and nonverbal cues to indicate your power was interesting and encouraging.
Being on schedule to graduate in a few months, the career advice on networking, how to reach out to make connections, and how to navigate a professional setting was incredibly helpful. I was able to build on my basic networking skills from the Women in STEM Policy seminar to be more comfortable and thoughtful about how I want to make connections with people who I find interesting. Many of the speakers encouraged us to reach out to them for career advice or other connections.
Ultimately, I was impressed and grateful for the interesting, diverse, and well organized panels and speakers that PLEN put together for this seminar. The passion for women supporting women and women’s empowerment shone through in each panel and discussion. I gained important advice on hard skills, like resume writing and networking, but more importantly the advice and support of powerful women telling us about the trials and tribulations they have gone through was incredibly inspiring.
Maggie Kelly attended the Women in Corporate and Nonprofit Leadership seminar with a PLEN scholarship and Women in STEM Policy seminar. She will graduate from St. Lawrence University in May 2018 with a major in Conservation Biology.