Sometime in November, I came across a flyer that said “PLEN Women in STEM Policy seminar” and I immediately thought: I have no knowledge of how policy is made and implemented. With the determination and curiosity to learn more about STEM policy, government sector opportunities, and Washington D.C, I immediately applied to this seminar.
In January, I had the opportunity to go to the seminar and it has provided me with more valuable experiences than I never expected. Not only did I learn about the importance and impacts of STEM and science policy, I also met many inspiring female leaders and gained helpful resources for professional and personal growth.
PLEN brought a together a network of many motivated, bright, and talented women from all over the United States that I now called my colleagues. As PLEN stressed, many successful careers begin with making connections. We can achieve unimaginable success if we pursue our passions with tenacity, while building a strong platform that supports and encourages other women to grow and succeed as well.
After hearing many panelists, other PLEN alumnae and keynote speakers, it was paramount that mentorship and networking are keys to developing one’s career. Just as it is important to listen and to learn from someone else’s story, it is also important to be able to effectively communicate and share your story with others. Networking gives us a chance to venture out and meet someone who may be able to provide us with new perspectives and advice that helps us to develop professionally.
PLEN taught us that there are endless career opportunities in STEM policy. These opportunities include working at the National Institute of Health, Capitol Hill, and even government agencies like the Department of Defense and the National Security Agency.
I left PLEN with a reaffirmed goal of working with government agencies and with an understanding that there are a variety of different places and opportunities your major can take you - way more than you think. I know now just how much of an impact and change in the policy field I can make as a woman and as an engineer.
Nga Man Cheng attended the PLEN Women in STEM Policy seminar in 2018 as a student at Rutgers University - New Brunswick with a scholarship sponsored by STEM for Her. She is planning to graduate in May 2020.