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UMass Women into Leadership Conference: Here’s What I Learned From Our Local Leaders in Public Service 

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

This past weekend I got to attend the UMass Women in Leadership 2023 Workshop Dinner where I had the opportunity to network with so many inspiring women who dedicate their work to public service in the fields of health care, government, legislation, and more.

From non-profit organizers to state representatives to lawyers, these women are motivated by their communities and are so kind to share their advice, experiences, and their networks to help the members of the UWIL 2023 cohort. UWIL is a selective professional development and leadership program where they annually accept a class of students who crave the desire to further their academic and professional experience at UMass Amherst and are interested in a future dedicated to public service. I am so grateful to have this opportunity and can not rave about it enough! Everyone should apply! It has opened my eyes to the amazing resources that are available at UMass Amherst; whether that is from UWIL or other programs and clubs, this school has so much to offer its students. So, this is my formal request to get out there and find what you are interested in, explore the UMass Websites, and talk to advisors, professors, and upperclassmen! The effort you put in to simply find those resources will repay you in infinitely greater amounts.

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I love UWIL because the program works for you! The lovely executive director, Michelle Goncalves, works so incredibly hard to curate the experiences of this program for its students. She found my mentor all the way from London, which goes to show how much time and effort she puts in to make sure that we get the most out of the resources the program has to offer. Our weekly class provides us with super crucial information and statistics about job and internship searching and other professional development advice, which I thought was already amazing to learn. I quickly learned that one of the greatest resources the program has to offer is the annual dinner workshop and the networking opportunities that come along with it. 

During my experience at the dinner, I picked up a few notes from the established and lively women with whom I got the chance to talk. Firstly, most of them did not know what they wanted to do starting in their careers. Come to learn, this is completely normal. Some started in campaigning, others working for a local elected official or attended law school; but for the most part, they never ended up where they started. It was very reassuring to know that these women who have reached such prominent positions in their work started just like any other person. It opened my eyes to the flexibility and constant demand needed in all sectors of public service, whether that is non-profit budgeting, fundraising, lobbying, or even directing communications to build city schools! 

Another important piece of advice I received from a lot of women is that any experience is a good experience. This does not necessarily mean you should settle for any kind of internship unrelated to your goals. Instead, trying out different kinds of roles or areas you may not be initially interested in could show you how much you do love it, or if you hate it so you can avoid pursuing that in your later career. The skills you gain from many of these internships are transferable across varying job titles; it’s mainly about knowing how to recognize and present these skills on your resume so that your next employer can acknowledge what you gained from said experience. I highly recommend taking the SOCBEHAV250 – College to Careers class offered at UMass Amherst because it goes in-depth about anything and everything you need to know to prepare for job/internship searching. 

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To top off all of the highly valuable information I learned from these lovely ladies, I also came to know that furthering your education post-grad is kind of a strategic decision, especially when working in public service. I have heard of the 4+1 Masters program offered at UMass Amherst, which is an amazing resource for some, but I have found that a lot of students are choosing to do it for the wrong reasons. Especially considering my interest in law school, like many of the women, they advised me to get a little bit of work experience before dropping right into graduate school because you never know where you end up working and if you need to invest that kind of money for the degree. Some experiences will be able to offer financial support for you to attain your master’s degree part-time while working for them. Every student is on a unique path so be sure to talk to a career advisor to make the best decision for your success! 

Nevertheless, there seems to be a lot of opportunity as long as you are dedicated to working hard, are looking to gain valuable skills, and actively applying them to your next position on your path to success. Most importantly, the community is your biggest motivator when it comes to public service, and it awaits the next generation of strong leaders.

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Chloé Massabni

U Mass Amherst '25

Chloé is a third year student majoring in Political Science and Public Health and minoring in Business. She loves sushi, painting, and learning about holistic medicine! She is also a big advocate for awareness and research about mental health, women's health, and food security.