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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Summer Internship with Obama Campaign

Published: August 31, 2012
Section: Features

Sarah Margulies ’15 understands the intangible benefits of working an unpaid internship. This summer she served as a Summer Organizing Fellow for the Obama campaign, combining her love of politics with a cause she believes in. “[This internship] made me a lot more interested in community organizing and in developing better personal skills. The Obama campaign is about trading stories, and I learned a lot about empathy and where people are coming from,” Margulies said.

Margulies has always been interested in politics, and will most likely declare a history major while at Brandeis. Hailing from Rhode Island, Margulies strove to find an internship in her hometown. State director Devin Driscoll headed the program that Margulies says changed her life. “I always knew I wanted to be involved with people and politics, and this campaign helped me see how I could do that.”

On a daily basis, Margulies made phone calls on behalf of President Obama. While her calls were not about fundraising, Margulies said they were about “people building neighborhood teams. Obama’s campaign is a grassroots one, and Obama is able to organize a lot of people to do good. Here we are organizing people to make change.” Describing her home state as “blue as could be,” she would instead call to request that Rhode Islanders go across state lines into New Hampshire and work to persuade voters there.

According to Margulies, the most interesting experience she had resulted from large group trips to New Hampshire. “People in New Hampshire are really interesting, because they truly believe in live free or die. It was really cool to get their thoughts on the election. They are so friendly because they are used to talking with politicians.”

Although New Hampshire is worth only four Electoral College votes, Margulies believes she has made a difference. “Obama is winning in New Hampshire right now by five points. If Al Gore had switched votes in his favor in New Hampshire in 2000, Florida would not have mattered.”

As for the upcoming election, Margulies said that Obama has a platform to stand on. “A really big focus is stressing what he has actually accomplished in office. A lot of it is completely glossed over by mainstream media since people are so focused on what Congress is doing wrong now. Obama cut taxes for small businesses 18 times, and nobody ever talks about that.”

Margulies argued that Obama’s triumphs in office and wealth of experience make this a much different campaign than that of 2008.

Margulies also gave Hiatt Career Center credit for helping her land her internship. “Hiatt was really helpful. They don’t get as much credit as they deserve, they really did help me with my resume.”

While Margulies discovered her internship on her own, the changes Hiatt made to her resume made a difference, and she advises students to start looking for internships now. “Looking early is the most important thing. I started thinking about what I wanted to do in February and I felt like even that was too late.”

Margulies feels that graduating with a degree in history from Brandeis will prepare her for the cutthroat world into which she is planning to head. “Working in government can do a lot of good for people,” she says about her chosen career. She currently plans to be a field organizer upon graduation.