Prior to attending PLEN’s Women in Global Policy seminar this Spring, I had never attended an event like this and had no idea of what to expect. The added complication of COVID-19 forcing everything online further blurred my idea of what this event would entail. After a week of speaking with Congresswomen, Lawyers, Lobbyists, and countless others I can say PLEN blew any expectations I had far and away. I have narrowed the week down to my top three favorite moments, though there could be countless more. My top three moments from the seminar in no particular order were the Networking 101 workshop, the Salary Negotiation and Financial Literacy workshop, and the invaluable advice from speakers.
Skills Workshop: Networking 101
Networking is a vital skill to have not only on Capitol Hill, but also in one’s daily life. I am a generally introverted person and do not tend to enjoy social interactions, mainly because I lack experience in navigating them. This workshop with Allyson Perleoni opened my eyes to how simple yet intricate the task of networking can be. This workshop went beyond the basics of attending mixers and handing out business cards, which apparently are still a vital medium. Perleoni explained the practice of keeping a spreadsheet of all contacts and their emails, and that “getting coffee” is Capitol Hill for an informational interview. The in-depth nature of this workshop was extremely beneficial in helping me to understand not only how to establish connections, but how to keep them.
Salary Negotiation and Financial Literacy
The policy world is traditionally male-dominated and as women continue to enter it, they need to be equipped with the tools to navigate it. In the past money has been thought of as a particularly taboo topic, but as our society becomes less restrained, discussions of salary and wages are becoming more normalized. To help illustrate negotiation tactics, attendees participated in a workshop with Shelby Olson of CareerLife Directions. Olson walked us through the negation process step by step, from receiving the initial offer to determining our “walk away” point. Salary negotiations are likely to also be uncomfortable, but thanks to the advice from Olson I feel better prepared to successfully negotiate a better salary.
The Non-Linear Path to Capitol Hill
As an undergrad, I’ve often been overwhelmed with the question of what to do after graduation. Go to graduate school? Go to law school? Take time off to work? An interesting, terrifying, and somehow reassuring sentiment was said by multiple different speakers during the week: there is not one path to Capitol Hill. The policy field encompasses a diverse group of people that take a wide variety of paths to their eventual careers, as exemplified by the speakers. Multiple speakers also emphasized the importance of building skills rather than focusing on building the perfect resume. This advice from the speakers gave me a better understanding of the various paths I can take to achieve my desired career.
I could go on about my experience with PLEN and the invaluable resources and knowledge I gained from this seminar. Truly the workshops and panels I and other attendees were able to attend have provided me with a vast amount of information that I plan to use in my future jobs and internships. This seminar allowed me to grow my confidence and networking skills and exposed me to a wide variety of resources. For these reasons and many more, I would highly recommend anyone interested in a career in policy getting involved with PLEN.