Meet Shwetika Baijal: Policy Analyst, Sky Diver, and Pundit of the Week


Meet Shwetika Baijal, outdoor enthusiast, policy analyst and our rockstar pundit of the week. As part of our "pundit of the week" blog, we feature one outstanding PolicyMic-er to share his/her personal experiences with our community. Check out last week's Q&A with Frank Hagler.

Each pundit gets to pose one never-been-asked question of a PolicyMic staff member. This week's question prompts many of our staff to spill the beans!

About Shwetika: She is a public policy and media analyst with a mixed bag background- including film curation, finance work, and a passion for photography. She's conducting research on the impact of media on socioeconomic policy and value systems in globalizing societies. She has lived in Mumbai, New Delhi, San Francisco Bay Area, New York, and Boston, and was voted Most Likely to be the First Female President of Any Country. She also dances while she paces.

Caira Conner (CC): Tell us about when and why you decided to join PolicyMic.

Shwetika Baijal (SB): After discovering PolicyMic in December 2012, I became hooked instantly. I scoured the site, reading as much as I could as I was especially fascinated by the Pundits. I've always been looking for avenues to discuss the issues of the day, and finding PolicyMic and its Pundits felt a little like I was coming home.

CC: You started out as one of our remote writers, and recently accepted an offer to join us a paid intern for our politics section. Any advice for members of the community who are interested in employment with PolicyMic

SB: Consistency. That is the single most important thing in being able to transition from a volunteer in any role to a paid position in any company. This is especially true with PolicyMic. As a remote writer, you have the additional disadvantage of not being physically present to showcase your personality, making it that much more important to diligently follow direction and deliver timely results. 

CC: If you could change one thing about your user experience with PolicyMic, what would it be?

SB: I would promote articles differently from a visual standpoint. Even though users are accustomed to scrolling down to read more, all articles are not alike in weight/importance. Once a user is logged in, it would be good to allow them to select the areas of the news they are most interested in reading about, and allow them to discover similar articles. If users come to the site and only see it as politics heavy, they may get turned off and not discover some of the great op-eds in other areas.

CC: If you could pick one dream outcome to result from your using PolicyMic, what would it be?

SB: My dream outcome is twofold - I become an effective writer by engaging in current issues in politics, media, technology and culture, and consequently pursue a career in public policy analysis and media.

CC: Let's go offline. What do you like to do when you're not PolicyMic-ing? 

SB: I love dancing, hiking, and anything related to beaches and food. I love to travel and try new adventure sports, including jet skiing, sky-diving, and whitewater rafting, but if that makes me sound too outdoorsy, I also love to sit down with a good movie (or three), or cook a big meal for friends.

CC: Your turn. What's one question you have for our staff?

Shwetika Baijal: What is one thing that if it changed or went away would cause you to leave PolicyMic?

Alex Marin: Its ability to provide a platform for all: liberals, conservatives, libertarians and everything in between.

Tom McKay: Salary.

Mike Luciano: The end of office happy hours.

Tom McKay x2: Ok, real answer. Editorial freedom and author creative license.

Chris Miles: If my four favorite writers quit writing.

Anthony SessaI dig the high-quality comments, so if moderation went away, or got too intense and we started filtering too much, that would ruin it for me.

Laura Donovan: What Luciano said!

Elena Sheppard: I think if the internet ceased to exist, we'd all probably have to find work elsewhere.

Michael McCutcheonThe writers. Working at PolicyMic is rewarding because of the people that use it as their platform to express themselves. I enjoy reading everyday- perspectives I've never considered or angles I can't find anywhere else in media. The Pundits, Anchors, Contributors and Rookies are what make Policymic amazing, and without them, I'd probably sleep a lot more and have a lot less fun.

Sam Meier: If we lost track of our mission and what it means to be democratic media outlet, or stopped actively engaging with the inherent struggles in maintaining a healthy, functional, open, and diverse public sphere.

Martin Mateev: The Nespresso machine.

CC: Shwetika, you're fantastic. Thank you for being a meaningful part of the PolicyMic community.

For more news on Shwetika, follow her on Twitter: @shwetika