Why you should absolutely, definitely, avoid the Young Women's Leadership Conference at all costs.

Don’t ask me to abandon my bed on a chilly afternoon in early December. After all, I have an appointment with my pillows to hole up with mac & cheese and binge watch an entire season of The Office. Why would I want to surrender my well-broken-in sweatpants for casual office attire, my day of splendid vegetation for a Young Women’s Leadership Conference? 

By Susanna Lustbader


Honestly, it’s difficult to even get excited about the mission of the event. Leadership opportunities for women? Meeting potential mentors? Networking with other people in my field? Finding new friends? Count me out.

I decided to learn more about the conference before passing any further judgment by asking past participants and board members for their honest opinions, based on their experiences from attending last year. But instead of assuaging my fears, this investigation made me feel much worse about attending. They told me even more amazing Women to Watch will attend this year to share their insights and wisdom and that the turnout of young women is expected to be higher than in previous years. I desire mediocrity in all areas of my life and it sounds like this conference would threaten my often-achieved goal.

After speaking to these former attendees, I have come up with other very important reasons why you should absolutely, definitely avoid this conference at all costs.

You could meet leaders in your field.

As I am basically a sloth-like brie-consuming troll, I avoid any opportunity to meet and/or interact with powerful, dynamic people in my field who want to help me. Almost every participant from the 2017 Conference emphasized that the speakers and workshop leaders came from many different fields and spaces, and that they were excited to meet young women who were just starting their careers. I am assured that this year’s speakers will be even more diverse, and just as friendly. This is my nightmare, since I hate hearing viewpoints other than my own, especially when they come from successful women. And the chance to actually meet women who could inspire or mentor me? PUKE.

You could make friends.

To all of the fellow hermits out there, be warned—it  will be hard to leave this conference without making at least one friend. After surviving the harrowing journey of middle school, high school, and sorority life, I was expecting the women of JWI to be more like The Plastics and less like Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. However, in my interactions with these incredible young women at monthly Young Women’s Leadership events, Conference Committee meetings, and one-on-one hangouts, I found that they are unequivocally friendly, intelligent, and downright inspirational. They will get your number, text you, and ask you to brunch. I have also been told that first-timers will have the opportunity to participate in special pre-conference programming so they can meet other first-time attendees and JWI board members. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

You might impress your boss by attending this conference.

GROSS - I know. Why try to impress anyone, especially the person who controls how much money you make and your opportunities for advancement? I have a strict rule of not impressing anyone unless he/she is a cheesemonger and/or Steve Carell. However, attending this conference might lead your boss to believe that you are interested in attaining a leadership position in your company or even becoming a leader in your field. He/she may also start to think of you as a self-starter, a motivated team member, and even an important asset to your company.

You might find a mentor.

What could be worse than this? Few things, I would imagine (a queso-less world comes to mind). A mentor is someone who has years of experience, a level of expertise in her profession, and wants to help you succeed. Side effects of strong, continued mentorship include: a higher likelihood of holding a leadership position, obtaining a larger professional network, and having more opportunities for advancement outside of your company. This sounds like a truly terrible experience, and I am very sorry to tell you that the probability of gaining a mentor increases exponentially when you attend the JWI Young Women’s Leadership Conference.

You help other women.

You got me—I have to admit coming together with other women can only ever be a good thing. Women’s empowerment is at the heart of everything that JWI does. I am proud to be involved in an organization that advocates for women’s health, equal pay, paid family leave, and stopping domestic abuse. Although I dread leaving my bed, and The Office will have to wait, I will do so in order to join women I admire on December 2, 2018, from 12-5 pm at the Washington Marriott at Wardman Park. I hope to see you there as well - find out more and sign up here!


Susanna Lustbader recently relocated from Brooklyn to Washington, D.C. She is passionate about women’s health research and promoting access to quality women’s healthcare for undeserved populations. She loves the Office and spends most of her waking hours eating cheese.