Charlie Sabgir (SFS’24) has been making the most of his time during the pandemic by interning for a congressional campaign from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.
With just 20 days until the election, Sabgir has been hard at work balancing his SFS studies with his internship duties, which include everything from fundraising support to socially distanced canvassing and pamphleteering for Alaina Shearer, the Democratic candidate for Congress in Ohio’s 12th District.
Working for His Community
When Georgetown announced it would hold most classes virtually for the fall semester to ensure the safety of the campus community during COVID-19, Sabgir saw an opportunity to get involved with local politics in a historic election year.
“I immediately began reaching out to local campaigns to see what I could be involved in,” he recalls.
“Alaina was the first person to come to mind, and luckily that worked out.”
While the first-year student was originally excited about the prospect of moving to Washington, DC, he now says he’s grateful about staying in his hometown.
“I am extremely lucky to be living in an area as vibrant and hospitable as Columbus,” Sabgir says. “Our city exemplifies the Midwestern spirit in the best way possible—neighbors care about neighbors, residents support their local communities and there is just a natural warmth that surrounds the city.”
Sabgir is enthusiastic about his candidate’s values as well as her background in journalism, technology and business, which he believes will help her develop policies that will benefit his community if she wins.
“Knowing just how tight this race is, along with the change I know she will bring to Washington, motivates me to keep working for her,” he says.
A Socially-Distanced Election Campaign
Sabgir says previous experience with political campaigning for another Ohio congressional candidate this past winter and his involvement in student government throughout high school has helped him during his internship. But he admits the tactics he and other staffers have employed in 2020 look very different from the ones of previous election years.
The first-year student has been supporting a socially-distanced and heavily digital campaign, taking notes during fundraising calls and participating in contactless literature drops. His colleagues have also pivoted to online events, including Facebook wine fundraisers and country music trivia nights.
“This is certainly no ordinary campaign season, and Alaina and the campaign team adapted in the most creative ways possible,” he says.
‘Challenging But Manageable’
It is not only campaign staffers who have had to adapt to the realities of life during a pandemic. Sabgir and his fellow first-year students have been getting used to starting their college experience in an entirely virtual environment.
“Adjusting to college life has been challenging yet manageable thus far, and as each week goes by I find myself increasingly comfortable with my routine,” he says.
An average day for Sabgir typically consists of spending a few hours on his scheduled classes, plenty of time for studying and about an hour devoted to the campaign. One thing that has helped him manage his busy schedule is the support of other interns.
“I am lucky to be surrounded by other passionate young adults, particularly fellow college students, who are willing to mix and match projects during this hectic time,” he explains. “This has certainly helped create a minimally stressful work environment.”
Working Toward a Career in International Affairs
While he is passionate about local politics, Sabgir is also deeply committed to issues that impact communities beyond his home state.
“The most important policy issue for me has been and will continue to be climate change,” he says.
If he were ever to run for office, he says, he would promote a progressive platform, with action on climate change at the center of his campaign.
While he has not ruled out a career in politics, he currently is interested in working in diplomacy.
“As of now, I don’t have a strong desire to run anytime soon,” he says. “I am currently more interested in the diplomatic realm of government and politics. Working as an advisor to a politician would be of great interest to me. And there are so many great NGOs and multilateral organizations that would be amazing to be a part of.”
Sabgir says he was drawn to Georgetown by its DC location and student culture, and SFS offered the international affairs exposure needed to pursue a diplomatic career.
“What excites me most about SFS are the opportunities provided for internships, jobs and study abroad, as well as the experience of the professors.”
“For now, I’m just happy to be at an institution that will propel me toward whatever career I end up pursuing,” he adds.