When I found out about the PLEN’s Public Policy Seminar, it was two days before the deadline. While I had never been to a Public Policy seminar dedicated to women, I was drawn to Capitol Hill Day on the schedule. As a student in a historical women’s college, I was elated by the learning possibilities that the seminar could offer, yet I was also hesitant to apply. However, the staff were very encouraging and reached out to encourage me to apply. So, I did.
Before coming to the PLEN seminar, I had some expectations. Yet, the seminar exceeded my expectations from its informative speaker panels to helpful career development workshops. While I was initially drawn to its panel on grassroots advocacy, I was very grateful that the staff exposed us to a wide array of diverse women professionals in different policy fields in addition to the field that I am interested in. These panels showed me different possibilities. My favorite part of the seminar was Capitol Hill Day. Specifically, I enjoyed the informational panel about life on Capitol Hill. During the panel, current and former congressional staffers each talked about their experiences, giving me a glimpse into their workplace. I was most amazed by the enthusiasm these staffers had about their jobs. Moreover, their confidence resonated with me. I learned not only to have the audacity to advocate for yourself and how to advocate for yourself. While they started on different paths, they eventually landed in the same field that they liked. The conversations were very relatable, and I found that many of the panelists shared the same feelings as me when they were in college. Many shared the same concerns at the time that I currently have regarding uncertainty about the future. The panels were not only about success stories but also about the obstacles that they faced. The panelists taught me when to be assertive and advocate for myself. It also taught me to reflect on my strengths. The panel helped me reflect on myself and how to take advantage of community resources. Moreover, the panelists gave detailed and helpful advice to students who asked questions.
Besides this panel, the career development section was very useful in helping me as a graduating senior who soon will be entering the job market. One of my favorite career development panels was “Salary Negotiation” with Shelby Olsen. While the topic seemed daunting at first, Olsen provided step-to-step guidance for different scenarios that we may face in the future. I learned not only about professional ways to approach the topic but also how to advocate for myself as a young professional. The session was insightful, and Olsen patiently answered our questions.
I appreciate PLEN staff for dedicating their time and resources to make this virtual seminar possible. Participating in the Public Policy Seminar taught me to be more confident in advocating for myself in a professional setting and exposed me to many possibilities that I could one day become.
Celeste Lan attended the 2022 Public Policy seminar. She is a senior at the Agnes Scott College studying Philosophy and International Affairs.