Students discuss work in the political realm

Photo by Abigail Gutierez-Ray, Student Publications

For many students, this November will serve as the first chance to participate in politics. For others, this election cycle serves as a continuation of their active work in politics. 

In order to better understand how students can contribute to the political realm, the Technique chatted with students with experience working in the political field.  

Rupkatha Banerjee, a second-year MATH and ECON student, currently works as an intern with the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties
Union (ACLU).

“I wanted political experience and I wanted to be with a prominent legal and political organization that was protecting people’s constitutional rights,” Banerjee said about her choice of work.  

Banerjee also discussed her how her experience has helped further her future dream of conducting research that can affect policy. 

“I knew I would be able to make a lot of good connections and meet people [at the ACLU] who would help me figure out a path if I did choose to go that way,” Banerjee explained. 

“My primary role is demographic and policy research so I’m getting a scope for where I fit into the political scene.” 

A fourth-year MGT student also spoke with the Technique about her experience in politics, which involved interning for S.C. Senator Lindsey Graham in the summer of 2017.  

“At the time I was interested in politics and didn’t know what I wanted to do. I still don’t, but I had heard of people
working there.

“I thought it would look good on my resumé and I think it has because people always ask about it,” the student explained.

The aforementioned student explained how much of the political process still remains unclear to her, as she mostly worked in the constituent services office answering phones.

In contrast, Banerjee spoke about the insight she has gained from her experience — insight which taught her that about the amount of work that precedes the ballots voters see. 

“There’s a lot of small things that go into building a campaign that I never realized,” Banerjee said. “When we look at politics, we think of the bigger picture but there’s a lot of small elements that go into politics.” 

“We had to research core districts that the ACLU wants to target, make profiles of candidates, and stuff like that. 

“All those small nitty gritty details help them decide which candidate they want to endorse and where they want to target in terms of demographics of who will accept their policies.”

The fourth year business student elaborated on her experience at Senator Graham’s office, explaining her surprise to find out that the calls from constituents with an opinion rather than a specific need oftentimes lead to
no resolution.

“Whenever people say, ‘Here’s your senator’s phone number, you can call’ — do not,” said the student.

“You can call if you want but I was the one answering those calls and they don’t go anywhere … It just made me realize how important voting is.”

Banerjee expressed a similar view on the importance of voting, especially stressing the significance of doing so in the more local levels of city and state elections.

“I wasn’t politically involved on a state level until I started interning — I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but it definitely is.

“Federal politics is more like political theater. You kind of watch it happen from afar and obviously your vote matters, but I feel like it’s a lot more important to be educated in what’s going on at the local level because it has a more immediate effect on your life,” Banerjee explained.  

As many students struggle to manage their already hectic schedules, interning for political campaigns may not be feasible. Nevertheless, staying informed on government policies, both on the national stage and local level, can help students take a more active role in the political realm and important issues.

Such action enables the informed citizen to then help shape the future of policy in the places they call home.