How PLEN Gave Me the Tools I Need to Succeed

I first learned of PLEN when a link to the program website was posted on a Careers in Law, Government, and Politics Facebook page that I follow. I was intrigued, so I followed the link to the website and explored the different seminars that were offered. PLEN seemed like an incredible opportunity, and when I saw that there were scholarships available, that opened up the option for me to try to attend. After applying, I was honored to receive a scholarship to attend the Women in Public Policy seminar, and because I earned that scholarship, I was able to afford going. I felt like I needed to attend this seminar because the opportunities it would provide me would be critical in helping build my skill set. I feel that I have a responsibility to do what is in my power to develop my network and professional development skills in order to empower myself and other women around me, which is exactly what this seminar would help me do.

My Women in Public Policy seminar experience went above and beyond my expectations. I met so many awe inspiring women in positions of power who are making a difference in this country. The women who PLEN brought in to speak to us provided a wealth of invaluable information and advice to help assist us all in our future job searches and careers. One of the pieces of advice that resonated with me was during our International Trade Policy Panel, when Blake Harden, who is Trade Counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means, told us that there is no right path. She was speaking to the fact that there is no set way to get to where you want to end up. She made the point that life takes you in a whirlwind of different directions, and in the end it all works out for the better. This message was clearly illustrated when hearing how all the women who spoke to us got to where they are today -- no one journey was like the other, yet they all made it to working in Washington D.C. regardless. It was comforting to know that no matter where life takes you, you can always turn it around and end up where you want to be.

Another lesson I learned during my time attending the seminar was when I went to EMILY's List, an organization that helps elect pro-choice, democratic women to office. We met with Lara Plecas, a Campaigns Assistant, and Ash Sharma, a Federal and Gubernatorial Campaigns Assistant. Both women were inspiring to talk to and provided so many engaging and helpful stories of their own journeys. The most meaningful message they gave us was that if you believe in something, do something about it. They focused on the importance of voting and how that it is one of the key ways that individuals can help make an impact on our government. The biggest takeaway from all of the women that came in and spoke to us all was that no experience is a bad one. It was encouraging to know that everything we have done thus far in our lives has provided us experience that, whether good or bad, we can use in our future to help us further our careers.

The Women in Public Policy seminar greatly affected me. Hearing from powerful women in our nation’s capital gave me so much hope for the future of women in leadership roles. This seminar provided me the opportunity to explore my interests in public policy and careers on the Hill. The wealth of information and advice I have taken away after attending is indispensable in providing me the tools I need to develop my professional skills. The seminar showed me that there are many different career paths in Washington D.C., and that women are more than capable of pursuing any and all of those careers. I was also inspired by all the women I met that were attending the seminar along with me. They came from all different walks of life and had their own unique goals and stories that were truly motivating.

After I attended this seminar, I have come to realize that change is happening. Women earning leadership roles and holding positions of power is now becoming a norm. However, there is still so much work to be done. It is up to women everywhere to advocate for ourselves and one another, and to continue to fight for both equality and representation in any and all fields. Programs like PLEN are a crucial link in helping this happen. I am very honored to have been able to attend this seminar and plan to spread the word to my peers so that they are able to know of these incredible opportunities.


Bailey Groh Rasmussen attended the Women in Public Policy Seminar with a scholarship sponsored by Ellie Shaw. She is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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