PLEN Taught me to step into my power

“Not only are you capable, but you are obligated (to lead).” A simple statement, yet so powerful it challenges you to think about the unique value you bring to any conversation. These words were among the many powerful statements said at the Global Policy seminar in May 2022. I applied for my first PLEN seminar after not being able to attend the Public Policy Seminar, despite wanting to and ultimately regretting the decision. I am grateful that I was able to attend this seminar with a scholarship to offset the costs I was paying out of pocket to attend the seminar. I was presented with an interesting challenge when my job didn’t approve the seminar as professional development. I was approved for flex time; however, meaning I was completing the 30-hour seminar in addition to the 40-hour work week ahead of me. I do not regret the decision in the slightest to make the seminar fit into my schedule. The city, the panels, and participants provided value beyond the cost paid. 

The panels were made up of women and marginalized gender groups with various backgrounds across international relations and global policy. The seminar included helpful salary negotiation and networking workshops to build our foundational skills to increase success throughout my career. The other participants were just as exceptional as the panelists. I was fortunate enough to connect with five different women, reach common ground, and continue to have a relationship following the seminar. I realize that the seminar only ended a few weeks ago, but these are lasting relationships that will continue to grow. The combination of the speakers and the participants in the beautiful city of DC made the whole experience feel more empowering. Since I was in 8th grade, I wanted to move to Washington, DC to work in the realm of politics, but only within the past few years has that shifted to encompass international relations and women’s political empowerment. This seminar provided a thorough look into that life and multiple eye-opening realizations during my interactions with the city, the panel, and the participants.

As a recent graduate with my first post-BA job, one realization is that in my first few jobs, I’m still figuring out what I do and do not like within the roles and that it is by no means the definitive of my entire career. I have found myself caught up in what I don’t like about my current role, and I stopped appreciating what I do. I have a newfound respect for my work and now have new ways to propel myself forward. Another realization was how much I belong in the center of the nation’s policy decision-making hub. Working remotely out of state can disconnect you from all the characteristics that make you feel connected, such as in-person connections, the energy of the city, and the other great minds. This realization also led to me finally accepting that not everyone is supposed to stay in your life. People leaving your life makes room for great new connections. My role is calling me to the DMV metro area at the end of August. I am exceptionally grateful that this seminar prepared me mentally to make the leap and provided me with the support I need to take my seat at the table. I could not have imagined that when I applied for this seminar in April, I would attend on a scholarship, reconnect with previous connections, build a new network of supportive women, AND be stepping into what I asked for a year ago moving to DC. 

There’s no guarantee that everyone will feel the same way I do following the seminar. However, I challenge any seminar attendee to find the valuable pieces of the seminar and dive in. Not every moment of the seminar was high energy, but that’s not how life is either. Use the seminars to your advantage, and you will propel yourself forward faster than you expected. Thank you to my scholarship donor, the panels, my new friends, professional connections, and PLEN for helping me show up as my most authentic self at the table. 

Carrie Miller is a recent graduate of Arizona State University. Carrie earned her BS in political science with certificates in international studies and political entrepreneurship in December 2021. She has previously interned with the US Senate and ReflectUS prior to her role as a research analyst with The Cadmus Group in Arlington, VA. Carrie attended the Global Policy Seminar in May 2022.

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