Sapna Rampersaud '19, is an Institute of Politics Director's Intern at National Review, the nation’s premier journal of conservative thought. We asked Sapna about her summer experience so far, and how she likes her taste of a journalist's life.
The mission of the Institute of Politics is to inspire young people to enter careers in politics and public service, what made you want to spend a summer working in that field?
I wanted to learn something new. President Drew Faust once said that "The future we face together is one in which knowledge will be the most important currency." I take this to mean that the more well-versed you are in a particular subject or field and the more you know, the better-equipped you are to contribute to the future of the United States of America, if not the entire world. I never knew how to write an article for a news publication and wanted to experience that first hand. So I applied to be a Director's Intern and gain as much hands-on-experience as I possibly could this summer. I, too, believe that the most important currency is knowledge and with that I am confident in the things I aspire to do.
What is your favorite part of your internship?
Being able to freely pitch ideas and subsequently write about the topics that I am passionate about makes this internship so welcoming and fulfilling. My writing skills have improved immensely, and it's only been a week since I've started. It has been easy to acclimate to the life of a journalist, and I've learned so much in my time here already.
What is a typical day like in your office?
Each morning we start off with a meeting to pitch ideas and get approval to write pieces and blogs. Once that ends, I typically return to my desk and spend the rest of the workday editing others' pieces, doing research for my pieces, writing and editing them, coming up with new ideas, chatting with interns and employees, learning from my supervisors, and of course, publishing what I've created.
What do you study at Harvard? How have your academics influenced your internship and vice versa?
I concentrate in government with a secondary in history and a language citation in French. My studies have augmented my interest and love for politics, and I'd say it has definitely helped me decide what I'd like to write about at National Review.
What do you think the 3-5 most important things (skills, attitude, experiences, etc) young adults need to succeed in politics and public service today? Why?
First and foremost, in politics, you need a good attitude. By this I mean that not only do you need to love what you do, but you ought to do it with a smile. This will not just make a mere impression on your fellow co-workers and bosses, but it can and most likely will impact your career and future in this field. Second is professionalism. In a day and age where offense is taken at the slightest things, I truly believe that you must maintain a professional composure and mindset in situations where you might see fit otherwise. The way you carry yourself and react to criticisms, insults, compliments, etc. determine the type of employee you are and I think it determines how far you'll go. Third is hard work. Not everyone will have experience in the fields they choose to go into, but putting in the hard work and effort necessary to learn the skills needed is as important as anything. That is exactly what I did this summer and will continue to do. Lastly, I truly believe that assertiveness is key. When you want something or want to change something, the only way to do that is to take a stance in what you belief in. By merely sitting around and waiting for either someone else to do it or for it to happen on its own, you're wasting your time. You want a pay raise and you think you deserve it? Voice your opinion in a professional and courteous manner. If you don't get it, watch your attitude and maintain composure and try again. These are all the factors that I think are key to success in the field of politics.