Exactly one year ago, in January 2021 I started applying to summer internships in Washington DC. I had four months to secure an internship and in that time I sent out over 20 applications, but I only had one organization I cared to hear back from–PLEN.
I had never personally attended a PLEN seminar, but one phone call convinced me of PLEN’s power. I reached out to an alum of my university, Mackenzie Kuhl, when I found out she had previously worked with PLEN as the Programs and Communication Manager. The first time I spoke with her, the passion she had for the organization shined through. I was hooked.
After lots of research into PLEN, mock-interview prep with my roommate, and too much coffee, I interviewed with Marwa Odeh, the current Programs Manager. I will always remember after leaving the Zoom call, I jumped out of my desk chair and danced all over my dorm room at the exciting possibility of working at an organization that actively empowers women to lead. A similar reaction was evoked when I opened an email with the offer letter attached.
"I also never could have
imagined the impact an organization would have on me"
During the summer, I worked with the Communications Manager, Cierra DeVos, as the Communications Intern. My daily tasks focused on creating social media posts promoting the PLEN X WGR DEI Summit. With the guidance of Cierra, I learned how to craft engaging captions and posts that catch attention while staying within PLEN’s branding.
As I grew more familiar with PLEN, I identified two needs: communicating the impact that PLEN has on students to donors and providing support to managers that takes extra tasks off their already-full-plates.
Working at a non-profit showed me the importance of donors and the network of people that champion for the organization’s success. I was inspired by their commitment to PLEN’s mission and wanted to fuel that by reminding them of the impact that PLEN makes on students' lives. I edited a two-minute promotional video showcasing the positive impact on students’ lives after attending seminars. I also wanted to support managers in a way that allows them to focus on more timely tasks, so I created templates for social media posts, presentations, and flyers that allow managers to shorten their time on communication and design tasks.
As August rolled around and I was nearing the end of my time in DC, I was honored to be offered an extension on my internship. Starting in September, I transitioned to Programs Intern where I worked with Marwa Odeh on logistics and planning of the Law and Legal Advocacy, Women of Color Influencing Washington, and Public Policy seminars, serving a combined number of 85+ students and over 100 speakers.
One year ago, when I was preparing for my time as an intern, I was clear that I wanted to make a lasting impact on an organization, but I could have never dreamed that impact would be on other people’s lives, on college women’s professional success and leadership. I also never could have imagined the impact an organization would have on me. The mighty PLEN team (who deserved to be called on by name: Nancy Bocskor, Nancy Stalowski, Marwa Odeh, Cierra DeVos, Wei Yu, and Alice Schyllander) taught me how to show up, work hard, and believe unconditionally in the life-giving work of cultivating community, teaching future leaders, and empowering women.
Mickaela Maehren was the Communication Intern in the summer of 2021 and the Programs Intern that fall. She is a Community Action & Advocacy major at College of Saint Benedict and will be graduating in May 2022.