The most crushing rejection of my life was neither college, job, nor even romance related. It was, as is fitting my rather nerdy life trajectory, about public policy. After 6 months of elaborate econometric work, countless late nights staring, bleary eyed, into the dull glow of Excel, and more study of Census data than should be undertaken by any sane human being, I presented my policy recommendations to the relevant stakeholders.
It was, at first, a great day—the boss liked it, the staffers liked it, heck, even some Republicans begrudgingly admitted it might be alright! And then I made the mistake of asking a simple question.
“So, what’s next?”
My boss chuckled.
“Well…when Democrats retake the House…and the Senate…and the Presidency…” he went on, as his words faded out and my heart sank.
I learned something that day that most people in progressive politics already know: the obstacle to change is not a shortage of clever white papers written by clever wonks. To cause change, I needed to solve the problems of politics, not policy.
I struggled with this dilemma for a while, torn between trying to tackle the problems of politics directly by joining campaigns or trying to build something world changing in tech outside of the confines of our ossified political system. As almost never happens in life, I was offered the chance to have my cake and eat it too when a good friend passed on a job opening for New Media Ventures—I could work at the intersection of technology and progressive change, helping entrepreneurs and investors hack their way to a better world.
The last few weeks have been hectic in the very best way. It’s amazing how work you wouldn’t think of as glamorous becomes meaningful when you work for great people working for a great cause—untangling schedules and wrangling donation data has been more rewarding than I could’ve ever expected. As I figure out how to best keep the NMV trains on running on time, I also ponder the bigger questions. How do we more efficiently connect investors and entrepreneurs? How do we maximize the impact of every dollar invested? How do tell the world the NMV story?
I don’t know yet—but I’m excited to be a part of its next chapter.