PLENty to do in D.C.

Happy end of the second week of classes!

Other people at Tulane may refer to this as the end of the third week of classes for the semester, but I made the bold move of skipping the first week to attend the PLEN Women in Public Policy conference in D.C. After spending last summer in D.C. and considering moving back after graduation, I was so happy to have the opportunity to explore potential career options and grow my network while spending a week in one of my favorite cities. Here is a recap of my experience…

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Clearly, since I was in D.C. for a conference, most of my week revolved around the 9-5 programming. We did so much, but here are a few of my favorites:

  • Policy Communications Panel– This featured women who work in campaigns, public relations, and public affairs. So cool!
  • Lobbying on Capitol Hill– I went to Senator Bill Cassidy’s office to advocate for a bill about food insecurity with someone from another university who is originally from New Orleans.
  • Site Visits– We chose from a list of sited in D.C. and I ended up going to Quorum, a startup that makes public affairs software, and IBM’s government affairs office.
  • Salary Negotiation Workshop– I might not have a job, but once I do, maybe this will help me get a higher salary?

Outside of the official conference programming, there were lots of networking opportunities that I took full advantage of. D.C. basically runs off of unpaid interns and networking, so I made sure to come prepared. On the first night, I went to the office of a Tulane alumna who works in public affairs and policy advocacy to talk about career prospects and her experience in the field. The next night, I met my mentor for dinner so that we could talk in-person as opposed to our regular monthly phone calls and email chain. By the end of the week, my networking had scored me an internship interview! I even had informational interviews set up for when I returned to New Orleans, which means the networking never ends…

That being said, I did have some free time in D.C., which I mostly filled by refueling myself with food and sleep. I went to all the best fast-casual restaurants: Cava, Sweetgreen, Chipotle, Shake Shack, and more, as well as Beau Thai, which I still claim to be the best Thai delivery in the city. And, of course, I had to make a stop at my favorite cafe, A Baked Joint, for cake and coffee to get me energized before my interview. Each night, once I made it back to the hotel, I fell asleep almost immediately despite the terribly uncomfortable rollaway bed. Between the melatonin and the sense of relief I got upon taking off my blazer and dress shoes, I was able to make up for the not-ideal sleeping arrangements.

Do I have a job for after graduation? No. Am I moving back to D.C.? Maybe, but honestly, who knows at this point. In fact, I have told the employers in my last two interviews that “I am afraid of commitment,” and this is true. I don’t want to rush myself into anything, so for now, I’m going to continue to enjoy the opportunities that come my way and take some time as I wait to find the best fit for me.

One response to “PLENty to do in D.C.”

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