PLEN became a part of my life back in 2016 when I was working on my undergraduate degree at Rutgers University. I had the fortunate opportunity to attend one of their seminars before graduating and it was eye-opening. From the start of my college education, I thought I wanted to be a staffer on Capitol Hill. I loved politics and thought that that was where I needed to be. The seminar guided me on the process of how to work on the Hill and what it entailed. I was able to meet professionals of all backgrounds and fellow students from across the country with similar interests to mine. At the end of the seminar, I knew one thing: I did not want to work on Capitol Hill. As an undergraduate student, PLEN allowed me to explore a potential career that I otherwise would not have been able to do. After the seminar, I was able to change my focus and my studies into something that better aligned with who I was. From that point forward, I knew that PLEN was an organization that I wanted to continue working with. This summer, I have had the most incredible opportunity to work with PLEN as their Summer 2022 Development Intern.
Since 2016, I’ve followed PLEN on social media and attended some of their events. I’m currently working on my graduate degree at American University and have been sitting in the middle of my career journey unsure of where to go next. I discovered this internship opportunity through an Instagram post in the spring. As a PLEN alumna, I was so eager to be involved and to go from a student attending a seminar to an intern helping to plan and organize seminars. This was an opportunity to give back to an organization that had helped me grow so much as a person. I wanted to help other college students in the same way. I felt welcomed by the team and I was so excited to get started. As an intern at PLEN, I have been able to learn about software and data management, explore, manage, and host an event, and helped gather information and reports for PLEN’s annual report. On top of the logistical aspects of my internship, I’ve also had the opportunity to work with a wonderful group of supportive people. Everyone at PLEN encouraged me and pushed me to be my absolute best.
From the start, the team threw me right into work. I didn’t feel like an intern who was just getting coffee for my supervisor and making photocopies. I felt like a valued staff member. I began working on gathering reports from the year’s seminars, information that would be used in their annual report. This required patience and attention to detail. It was an important task and felt daunting at first, but the team was overwhelmingly supportive and helped me every step of the way. In every staff meeting, I was encouraged to participate and share my ideas and input. No matter the topic or my expertise, I felt as though my input was valuable.
In this internship, I also had the opportunity to work with the Summer Communications Intern, Nadia. Nadia is truly an amazing person, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with her. We worked together on a PLENTalk. The work wasn’t easy, but Nadia and I had excellent communication and support for one another. We worked together to pick a topic and style for the event, find a speaker and moderator, and do outreach. In the end, it felt like everything just fell into place. While Nadia spearheaded the marketing and communication of the event, I also worked on outreach to universities and student organizations. I wanted to focus on communicating the importance not only of this event but of the organization itself. The event was overwhelmingly successful, and I am proud of the work that we did together. Working on this project, I feel prepared to organize and run events in the future.
I am so grateful for the opportunities that PLEN has given me through my education and my career. I know that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without their amazing leadership. As a graduate student, I have before had opportunities meant to grow my career, but no other university or organization has given me the support or the confidence like PLEN has. Specifically, working as the Development Intern with PLEN this summer has given me hands-on opportunities and allowed me to work with professionals of various backgrounds. In this internship, I felt like a true professional and a valued member of the team. These are skills that I can take with me into the next step of my professional journey. I’m proud of the things that I have accomplished this summer. The PLEN team was extremely supportive and knowledgeable. After my seminar with PLEN in 2016, I felt like I had learned so much about myself and that my career path had become a little clearer. This internship has done the same for me. I’m excited about what the next step brings me, and I know that I have a wonderful support system behind me eager to see me succeed. Thank you!
Paige Botjer served as the Summer 2022 Development Intern, who is a Master’s Candidate in the School of International Service at American University.