Currently a sophomore at the Wharton School, Megha Agarwal has established interests in both business and public policy. Her interest in the latter has its roots in her time serving on her hometown’s city council in Los Altos, California. At the time, she was just trying to gain exposure to different kinds of activities, but she says that her time on city council significantly shaped how she saw regular day-to-day activities.
“My time on Los Altos’ City Council definitely led me to realize that even the smallest decision made by the smallest group of people can have a wide and long-lasting affect,” Megha said. “And as citizens, or even just inhabitants of a particular city, we have some sort of civic responsibility to maintain involvement with local politics and happenings.”
That being said, when she started her college career at Wharton, Megha looked into a minor in American Public Policy or Political Science as a way to maintain public policy in her studies. When she heard about the Public Policy Research Scholars (PPRS) program offered by Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative, however, she was drawn to its flexibility and sense of community almost immediately.
“I loved the idea of being able to create or choose your own public policy track and being able to join a tight-knit community of like-minded students. The program as a whole seemed like an opportunity and academic experience that could not be presented with a simple major or minor,” remarked Megha.
In pursuit of her interests in business and public policy, Megha also worked as a White House intern in the Office of Management and Administration last summer. While she went into her internship expecting it to be very “hierarchal,” what surprised her was that even though she was one of the youngest members of the team, not only were her opinions still taken into consideration for memos and reports but she was even given the opportunity to pioneer her own personal projects.
“Like with any other place, you have to prove that you are dedicated, trustworthy, and hardworking, but after you are able to create that initial foundation of mutual respect, the White House has no problem giving you the same level of work and responsibility that a full time staffer would have,” explained Megha.
Her time at the White House during the Obama administration also gave her a unique opportunity to observe the federal government’s development of an online social media presence. While Megha herself used to write regularly on her own blog, she is less interested in the social media sphere than in the past. Nevertheless, she finds the Obama administration’s engagement with social media to be a refreshing move that has “added an air of youth and approachability to a previously lofty and removed institution.”
When speaking about her future at Penn, Megha says that most of her interests do fall in either business or public policy. While she still tries to be involved in a variety of activities, she does hope that “at the end of the day, [her] life at Penn and even life after Penn can be well-defined by both business and policy.”
“In my opinion, business and public policy are the two things that truly affect every single person in the world, regardless of whether they want to admit it or not,” said Megha. “So I think being able to critically analyze how the two relate and how the two differ can be nothing but beneficial.”