We’ve all been hearing it for months: This is going to be one of the most important elections of our lives. But instead of leaving the campaigning to people with more time on their hands, Weinberg senior Alexa Wong and SESP junior Sharon Reshef decided to squeeze internships with Obama for America into their already busy schedules. NBN sat down with Reshef, a co-philanthropy chair of Chi Omega, and later Wong, a site leader for NCDC, to learn more about how their experiences have shaped their political perspectives and lives.
What do you do on the campaign?
AW: I am an intern for the speechwriting department. I just help them with research and compiling information, and I watch the news headlines in case of anything developing that would affect our department.
SR: I’m a research intern. The research team is basically responsible for knowing Obama’s record from the beginning of his presidency until now and being able to set facts straight.
How did you discover this opportunity?
AW:I was finishing up an internship in DC, actually, so that night I saw a posting [on Facebook] about a campaign internship.
Did you have any political experience beforehand?
AW: Before this, my biggest experience was working for the White House. I’ve also interned for a small civil rights organization concerning civil rights and discrimination against Asian Americans.
SR: I had worked on the Obama campaign the summer before as an organizer in New York City.
Why did you decide to take this internship?
AW:My work in DC and the kind of people I was interacting with who worked on campaigns and really spoke highly of those experiences got me interested in working on a campaign.
SR: I’m never going to be a junior in college again with such a historic and really important national election, so I figured I should get involved and make a tangible impact.
How do you balance your work and school?
AW: I work full time twice a week, and then a half day when I have class in the morning. It does take some juggling coursework, but I think it’ll work out.
SR: I work every day, Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Chicago. On Saturdays, I work from 10 to 4. I’m just going to fit in my schoolwork whenever I have time and focus on the campaign for all the other times.
How has your position changed your perspective on politics?
AW: It’s refined the way I look at politics rather than changed it. I’m more passionate about it, I guess. It’s been really interesting to get the inside scoop on everything.
SR: When you’re actually working on the campaign, you have a kind of piece of it. You know that not only are you talking about it, you’re making a direct impact on it.
What are the best and worst parts of working on the campaign?
AW: You’re surrounded by so many people in a single office who all have the same goal of winning the election, and everyone’s so driven to do whatever it takes to make things happen. I think with any internship there’s going to be challenges, but I wouldn’t say there are any drawbacks.
SR: The best thing is being around such incredibly accomplished people. It’s kind of throwing off my academic plans a little bit. But I’d say based on the fact that it’s such an important national election, I couldn’t pass it up and it’s really worth it.
Why should students be politically active?
AW: The decisions we make now and the decisions we make when we’re voting are going to affect our future 10 years and 20 years down the line. It affects all kinds of students.
SR: As much as politics seems like a distant thing to you right now, politics is really relevant to you, and what you do in this election and elections to come is going to affect you and generations to come.
Has your work changed your anticipated career path?
AW: It hasn’t changed it, it’s kind of contributed to it. I hope that in the next few years, regardless of what I’m doing for my day job, it’d be a wonderful thing to continue being up to date on politics.
SR: It’s kind of just affirmed them. I know I want to do something political, so working around all these different kinds of people has made me really excited about the future in that career field.