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Post WLP 21: The Symphony of Summer -- An Ode to Joy, Growth, and Reflection

The WLP summer symphony passes in the blink of an eye. Packed into eight weeks is a crescendo of formative experiences. Though often starkly different, these experiences ultimately harmonize into a cohesive and symphonic narrative – one filled with lifelong friendships, invaluable mentorships, and new memories in a new city.

The values that WLP espouses on their website, from community to mentorship, are more than just words–they are the moral foundation on which one comes of age as a WLP Scholar. I am beyond thankful to the WLP Board for organizing such an engaging program and for accepting me into this amazing family. I am also grateful to my mentors for providing me with immense support and guidance during this summer. Through a hands-on internship and robust programming, I not only affirmed my passion for public service, but also built upon it. I developed a better understanding of how my South Asian American identity influences my philosophy on policy-making and good governance.

Through the virtual speakership series, we heard from South Asian American judges, media personalities, diplomats, activists, and elected officials. It was a unique privilege to hear such prominent South Asian Americans speak candidly about the challenges they faced early in their careers and how they overcame them. Many found solace and strength in the South Asian community during their battles against glass ceilings and blatant racism. Hearing their inspiring life stories and career advice made me reflect on the work of these tireless trailblazers. We owe a debt of gratitude to them and other activists who paved the way for future generations of South Asian American public servants.

Given my interest in the intersection of economic policy and storytelling, my placement at the Office of Public Affairs at the Department of Commerce could not have been a better fit. The Public Affairs team created a truly fulfilling in-person internship experience for me, helping me develop new skills that utilized and built upon my policy interests. From writing daily press clips for the Office of the Secretary to speechwriting and advocating for tens of billions in new investments, I got to work on my narrative-building skills in an economic growth and development context. I now truly appreciate the skills needed to dissect dense bureaucratic policies into digestible information, communicate the benefits of policies to everyday Americans, and articulate accomplishments into the larger narrative arc of the Biden administration. It was truly a learning experience to be immersed in this mecca of economic policy communications, surrounded by such experts in the field.

I am grateful that we as a cohort are still so close even after the end of the program. Not a day has gone by without group chat banter, FaceTime debriefs, or deep discussions on the news of the day. I am so inspired by each and every one of my fellow WLP scholars. Their relentless drive to tackle issue areas that they are passionate about inspires me to work harder to achieve my goals. In addition, they pushed me to be the best version of myself, from motivating me during challenging moments to supporting my accomplishments and being an ever positive presence. Even though we were in wildly different parts of the country, I am so happy our cohort was still able to share this special experience together.

- Varun Seetamraju


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