Seminar: Women, Business, and Policy (2015)
Occupation: Student, American University Washington College of Law
Education: MBA, Management, University of Florida; BA & BS, History and Biology, University of Florida
On the morning of October 1, 2015, while PLEN women were waking up in their hotel rooms, excited for their first day of the Women, Business, and Policy seminar, Lauren Beadle’s plane from Jacksonville was just arriving. After finishing her mandatory class the night before at the University of Florida, she hopped in her car to drive two hours north to Jacksonville, stayed overnight in a hotel, and took an early flight to DC in order to come to PLEN.
When she was seven years old, Lauren created her first career plan. Her end goal was to become the first female president of the United States, but unlike other seven year olds, Lauren calculated the exact steps that she needed to take in order to achieve this lofty goal- including law school and a stint as governor of Florida. As she grew up, Lauren’s plan evolved, but her ability to set a goal and think strategically about the best possible way to get there never changed.
After reading about PLEN in an email from her university’s career center, Lauren made attending PLEN was one of her goals. As an MBA student, she was interviewing for post-graduate opportunities in the field of government relations, but was still unsure of where exactly she wanted to go next. After trying to decide between the Women, Business, and Policy seminar or the Women Unlocking Nonprofits seminar (now combined as the Women in Corporate and Nonprofit Leadership seminar,) she decided on going the business route, hoping to learn more about careers in government relations.
While at the PLEN seminar, Lauren had what she called a “reverse aha moment;” after hearing from a woman who worked in government relations, Lauren realized that that field did not appeal as much to her as she expected. Although she was interviewing for careers in this field, it wasn’t until she spoke to the women at PLEN that she realized what the day-to-day work was like, and that it might not be the best path for her.
While Lauren is strategic about goal setting and planning, she also highlights the importance of flexibility, which has helped ease her transition between career paths. While she attended PLEN with the expectation to learn more about the field of government relations, she ended up realizing that policymaking better fit her interests and skills, and it’s her focus on flexibility that allowed her to ease this transition. She credits this skill to her parents. Growing up, her parents taught her the importance of picking a goal and working toward it. “Even if you change your goal one hundred times,” she says, “the skills you develop along the way will probably be transferable.”
That lesson has stuck with Lauren throughout her short but unique “career jungle gym.” She started her undergraduate career as a history and biology major because she always loved learning about history and, as a child of two engineers, she learned that you can “never go wrong with a science degree.” She was very involved in her campus’ mock trial team, but, uninterested in being in the courtroom, wrote off the field of law for a while. After finishing up her degree, she looked at her resume and asked herself what skills and experience she was missing, and settled on pursuing an MBA to gain management knowledge and skills she felt she was lacking. After finishing her MBA, she started working in production planning, but wasn’t getting the job satisfaction that she craved, so she started a teaching job at her younger sister’s old high school as a biology and physics teacher. Now, Lauren is preparing to begin her first year at American University Washington College of Law. Looking at her experiences on paper, Lauren’s motto “whatever pops up, I’m willing to try!” is obvious.
While seemingly random, Lauren has gained important and marketable skills from each and every one of her experiences. By saying yes to a variety of new and exciting experiences, she now has a unique perspective that she can bring to whatever path she follows next. As a high school teacher, she became incredibly aware of the influence of government regulations and standards on classrooms on a day to day basis and realized the importance of having policymakers with classroom teaching experience. This experience, along with what she learned at PLEN, helped her realize how nuanced law is, and that it’s not as black and white as she experienced in mock trial. This has pushed her to return to Washington, DC (which, she mentioned, all of her family and friends were expecting her to do) and attend law school.
Lauren still has a long-term goal to become president, but for now, she is focusing more on her midterm goals: gaining the skills and experience needed to positively help her community. As a law student, she is planning to learn as much as she can, keep her plans flexible, and continue to say yes to whatever pops up.
If you’re interested in learning more about the careers available at the intersection of business and policy, register for the Women in Corporate and Nonprofit Leadership seminar today! If you know a student like Lauren, recommend her to learn more about PLEN and start her policy career.
By Hayley Humiston • 2017