Network, Network, Network: The Key to Professional Success

Kristen Davis, Political Science and Economics student at Robert Morris University

After attending PLEN’s Women in Public Policy seminar in January 2021, I am more
confident in my ability to move forward with a career tackling the policy issues that matter most to me.
I learned about the opportunity through my university’s Women’s Leadership and Mentorship Program, and I was fortunate enough to attend thanks to a PLEN scholarship that provided me with the necessary financial support. I had also heard about PLEN through the Pennsylvania Center for Women & Politics’ NEW Leadership PA and was excited to finally have a chance to engage directly with the organization. Being from a relatively small college and Political Science program, I was excited to connect with other young women passionate about public policy while building a professional network who could expand my horizons and potentially provide mentorship opportunities in the future. While I was unsure of how much a virtual environment could offer, I appreciated the flexibility of attending from home while still feeling connected to my cohort, the PLEN coordinators, and the speakers who attended.

As a junior Political Science and Economics student, I knew I wanted to work in public
policy upon graduation, but I was struggling to know what that meant for me after graduation.
Luckily, the Women in Public Policy seminar introduced me to potential paths and helped clarify why I cared about public policy work in the first place. The networking opportunities were especially valuable, and as a women in economics, I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to speak with Maryann Hunter and Nellie Liang, who ultimately connected me with another seminar on Women in Economics hosted by the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank. The PLEN leadership team is confident in each attendee’s ability to represent the organization well when interacting one-on-one with speakers, and that independence made me feel more comfortable when networking throughout the week and after the seminar’s conclusion. Each speaker also gave valuable advice on how to network effectively, which was helpful for young women like me who do not practice the skill regularly. Ally Perleoni, a senior legislative analyst with the Association of American Medical Colleges left us with the important advice on never leaving conversations with new connections without asking for introductions to other people to speak with.

I came into the seminar open-minded and ready to learn, which made the exposure to so
many different areas and aspects of careers in public policy more meaningful and lasting.
In addition to connecting directly with representatives from the Aspen Institute and Citigroup, I was fortunate enough to hear from speakers who also specialized in health, financial, environmental, and education policy. In such a tense time for the nation, it was a pleasure to connect with so many women who shared my interests and my passions (along with receiving some awesome podcast recommendations). I am now a proud PLEN alumna, and I am so excited to see what more this network can offer me as I transition into the workforce in the next few years!

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