My Foray into Professional Development

Last Friday I attended part 1 of a 2-part advanced advocacy training seminar and I’ll admit, I was nervous. Through work in the past I have gone to events/talks/etc. and I was never really….engaged. So, I’ve found ways to convince myself not to go to these types of things –

1. I don’t want to spend money if I’m not earning any (or I guess, even if I am earning).
2. It’s gonna be a time waster and I could be doing better things. Well let’s be serious, I probably wouldn’t be doing better things.

Anyway — I was so frickin’ pleasantly surprised by this experience and part 1 alone was worth the $45 I spent.I took an advocacy course for my Master’s (which probably cost me THOUSANDS of dollars) and this 9AM-2PM class was more worthwhile for my advocacy skill set.

AND, even more importantly, I met people, people in my field, people with whom I made connections and gave my brand new business cards (people thought the QR code was very savvy).

Our very first activity was to give a 30 second elevator speech about ourselves. Most people there were older, more developed in their careers and so that’s what they talked about. Everyone everywhere will talk about how and elevator speech needs to be engaging & memorable so I wanted to make sure I was both of those things.

Hi, my name is Anna. I am a recent MPH graduate and unemployed Baltimore local with a very strong portfolio in economic and health policy writing. I am passionate about women’s and global health, especially in W. Africa where I lived for a semester. I am a classically trained pianist with a great love for romantic and modern music – I teach lessons. In less than a month, I am marrying a man I met on World of Warcraft. 


After everyone did their speech, the training leader asked everyone what they could remember besides names and people really took note of some of things I said, in part because I made it very personal.

But, one of the smartest things I did that day was be upfront about being unemployed. I had oodles of women come up to me throughout the event and ask what I was interested in doing – they told me about volunteer opportunities, upcoming employment opportunities at their agencies, and they talked to me about people with whom I should connect. I have an informational interview set up for next week because of this and I know that more opportunities will arise because of the connections I’ve made through this professional development training.

I’m looking forward to part 2 this week!

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