In 2021, I attended the week-long PLEN (Public Leadership Education Network) Women in Public Policy seminar. I got to hear from tons of amazing speakers, in fields from environmental policy to economics, to legislative support staff and I had the opportunity to ask questions about their work. It was a phenomenal chance to network (in fact I’ve had many informational interviews with people I met) and it helped me see how many different opportunities and fields there are within public policy.
As someone who was definitely still trying to figure out where I’d fit in the world of politics, getting to hear from speakers in all of these different fields and job types was really comforting and eye-opening. My favorite part of the experience was getting to meet and work with all of the amazing student and adult attendees. I loved hearing about other people's passions and getting to collaborate on seminar activities together. I also really enjoyed hearing organizing tips and successful strategies from students who were working on issues I also cared about. I even got some great podcast recommendations that I still listen to frequently!
In light of the pandemic, the seminar was held over zoom instead of in DC. While I felt some Zoom fatigue, I found that the PLEN staff was incredibly supportive and included consistent breaks. I also admit that a lot of the Zoom fatigue was self-induced because I was so excited to talk to peers that I frequently stayed on calls through breaks. My conference experience was amazing despite being fully remote so I know the in-person experience, where you can better connect with speakers and peers all while exploring D.C., must be absolutely incredible!
The PLEN conference provided me with concrete skills and a network that I have used many times since I graduated. As I am now starting my career in politics, in a field I never would have imagined before PLEN, I know I always have a PLEN community there to support me! Overall it was a fantastic experience and I would highly recommend the PLEN conference to anyone interested in public policy and women’s leadership. I am so grateful to PLEN for giving me this incredible professional and personal experience!
Maya is a 2022 graduate of Scripps College with a political science major. She earned a full scholarship to attend the week-long PLEN Women in Public Policy conference as well as a summer internship grant.