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WLP 2022 Week 3: Exploring New Possibilities

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

This summer I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting, reflecting on what I want to do post-graduation, reflecting on what I want a typical work day to look like for me when I have a career (which I’ve come to realize is not working on a computer in an office every day), and reflecting on the type of person I want to become. A lot of this week for me was spent connecting to new individuals and learning about their careers and backgrounds with some hope that it will help me narrow down what I’d like to pursue. From having coffee chats with my WLP mentors during my lunch break to setting up a call with my team at the Department of Transportation to learn more about their careers in the federal government, I have learned so much about different opportunities that I didn’t even know existed. At our WLP orientation, it was emphasized to us that people in this city really do want to help, you just need to ask. I wasn’t sure if I completely believed that at first but it has rung true, as people I just met have been willing to connect me to other people they know that they think could help me.

Outside of work, our cohort attended several amazing events with remarkable speakers this week. We kicked off our first event of the week with Joyprada Swain, during which we learned how to build an effective resume and impactful cover letters. The following day we got to hear from a group of WLP alum in a Law School panel, an event that for me and most of my cohort was very motivating as we all have at one point or another considered attending law school. This event seemed to really solidify for me that I do want to attend law school but can take some time in between to explore other roles before doing so. On Thursday, we had an amazing conversation with Anurima Bhargava about everything from her work with education policy at the Department of Justice to her work with the NAACP Defense Fund to her current dive into the filmmaking world. We got the opportunity to have an open conversation about deep topics with a distinguished woman who has done a lot of meaningful work throughout her career. After these events, we got to recap these conversations and connect more deeply over dinner and dessert, after spending far too long trying to find a place to eat. Here are some pictures from the fun things we did this week:

Started the week off by getting dinner and desserts at Union Market!

Asked any questions we had regarding the law school process and application at the law school panel.

Had meaningful conversations with Anurima Bhargava regarding her work in multiple facets of policy.

Ate dinner and got some gelato after the panel.

Most of our cohort was out of town for the long weekend so we explored DC with whoever was around in the cohort. Here we walked around the Wharf and found a restaurant/arcade to cool off in.

Explored some of the Smithsonian museums like the National Museum of Natural History and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Going into the summer I was a bit nervous about not being able to connect with the cohort. Growing up I felt very disconnected from my identity as a South Asian because I didn’t have many peers in school who looked like me. I felt that I had to assimilate in order to make friends, which often meant hiding my Pakistani heritage. Even in college, I never made an effort to join South Asian organizations for the fear that I wouldn’t fit in and feel even more disconnected from my identity. However, connecting with the WLP cohort has been nothing short of amazing. I’ve had the opportunity to be around other people who not only have similar policy and career interests, but also who help me embrace my culture and understand the struggle of wanting to pursue a career that may differ greatly from previous generations. I’ve spent a lot of my life going by nicknames to make it easier for people to pronounce my name, and this is one space where in a really long time, everyone calls me by my full name.

I’m really excited to see what the rest of summer holds, from creating more memories with our cohort to connecting with, and learning about more South Asians doing amazing work in government. While I still have no idea where I see myself after graduation, I know the kind of person I want to be and the impact I want to make, even if that impact isn’t made in the most traditional of ways.


Zainab Maniya


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