Pundit Pierce Willians has been interested in politics and current events for as long as he can remember. His article on libertarian activist Adam Kokesh was featured on WeAreChange.org, and he recently wrapped a for-credit internship with our breaking news team. Pierce is a dynamite member of the PolicyMic community, and this week's pundit of the week.
As part of the "pundit of the week" blog, we spotlight one exceptional PolicyMic-er to share personal experiences with our community, and pose one never-been-asked question to a staff member.
This week's question is for co-founder Jake Horowitz. Check out last week's Q&A with Alex Cardinale.
About Pierce: Pierce is currently studying political science at Seton Hall University and hopes to one day work on Capitol Hill. This summer he has divided his time between writing for PolicyMic, working for Cory Booker's senate campaign, and studying Spanish.
Caira Conner (CC): First things first. When and why you got involved with PolicyMic?
Pierce Willians (PW): I actually got involved after my dad heard about it through a colleague and told me about about it. I took a look at the site and thought it would be a great opportunity to improve my writing skills and get my name out there in front of an audience at the same time.
CC: You recently received university credit writing for us as a breaking news writer. Any advice for millennials interested in doing the same? What are the pros and cons of having that on-call schedule?
PW: I would recommend first going to the career center at your school and asking if they allow it, because each school and academic department is different. One critical aspect to being a breaking news writer is to be constantly scanning the news. You should be aware of what's going on and be able to formulate a rough idea of what you want to say relatively quickly.The pros to having an on-call schedule is that it allows you to rapidly improve your writing abilities and it forces you to learn about a variety of different issues. However, the pace can be exhausting. I recommend drinking a lot of coffee.
CC: What is one improvement to the PolicyMic platform that you think would benefit user experience? Why?
PW: I've noticed that, all other things being equal, my articles tend to get a lot more comments and mics if they are submitted to the politics section of the site. For whatever reason, when I've submitted them through technology or culture, they get far less attention. I think writers would benefit if PolicyMic somehow increased readership on their other sections. And while I understand there are some technical constraints right now, I think it would be great if PolicyMic eventually added the ability to edit one's comments.
CC: You want to work in D.C. someday. How will PolicyMic help you get there?
PW: I think being able to take a current event and produce well-constructed analysis on it within a couple of hours (give or take depending on the complexity of the topic) is a valuable skill that could carry over into a number of professional fields. It will also come in handy with being able to draft memos or press releases. Working for PolicyMic has also helped me expand my knowledge of topics I otherwise would know little about, as well as help me better express my ideas.
CC: Let's go offline. What do you like to do when you're not PolicyMic-in'?
PW: When I'm not on PolicyMic, I'm in Newark on Friday and weekends, working as a fellow on the Booker campaign. I also study Spanish a few times a week. Other than that, I'm spending time with friends, going for runs, or trying to get through the backlog of books I need to read.
CC: Your turn. What's one question you have for a member of our staff?
PW: My question is for Jake Horowitz. As one of the co-founders of the site, you've been with PolicyMic from the very beginning. Now, its getting people like Rand Paul and Kirsten Gillibrand, among others, to write op-eds for it, and it's really come into its own. At what point did you notice the site begin to take off? Was there a certain event that brought it into the limelight?
Jake Horowitz: Thanks for the question, Pierce. There really was no single moment which helped propel people like Rand Paul and Kirsten Gillibrand to write for PolicyMic, but rather a long and steady road of hard work and sustained growth. It's become easier to attract high-profile figures to contribute to the site over time, because we have more and more millennials contributing to the platform and participating in discussions. More generally, we've aimed to grow the site at an ambitious, but steady pace month over month for the past two years, and that's been a huge factor in our success. Figures like these are attracted to the platform because we bring together so many smart millennials in a way that no one else does, so the best thing we can do it continue to keep the quality of our content really high as we continue to grow. Thank you!
CC: Pierce, thank you for sharing your perspective with us. We love having you as a contributor, and look forward to reading more of your work!