Washington Leadership Program
Jasbina Ahluwalia asks Aakash Patel, Founder and President of Elevate, Inc.: That’s interesting. Now I see the connections. What you’re saying is that it is the key to networking. You are adding value to someone else. You start by showing someone how you can add value and then it’s a sharing of that.
Let’s go back to the government affairs that we mentioned earlier. We ran through your experiences.
What is your opinion as to how one can use the political system to one’s own benefit? What suggestions do you have for our listeners who might be looking at that as something they are interested in doing?
I always say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” What you see on the news, you have to experience it for real in your life.
Washington Leadership Program: Internship
I mentioned that I worked in the state legislature. I applied for an internship with what I think is one of the best kept secrets in the Indian American community. It is the WLP, the Washington Leadership Program. I applied for the Washington Leadership Program.
I was awarded the internship. There were 15 Indian Americans from around the nation, all college juniors. I moved to DC for the summer.
Washington Leadership Program: Congressional Experience
You get placed with a congressional member who is part of the Indian American caucus. I learned from Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina. It doesn’t matter who you work for, you will learn about the legislative process.
For me, what I learned was two-pronged.
Washington Leadership Program: U.S. Governmental System
First, I learned about our system that runs our nation. Second, I also learned about other Indian Americans from around the nation who are involved in the process and how they want to achieve their goals in their business and careers.
Four or five of my classmates went to law school. I’m still best friends with several of my classmates. I learned about the process.
Washington Leadership Program: Relationships
I learned that, as Indian Americans, if we continue to stay in touch with each other, we will be able to help each other. It’s not instant. You develop the relationships.
I got involved in Tampa. I mentioned that I was involved in the tourism bureau when I first moved here. We hosted the Republican National Convention. The biggest and coolest thing for me during that time was, regardless of party politics, I was able to call one of my alumni, House Delegate in Maryland Sam Arora, who was an alumni from my WLP program.
I said, “Would you come to Tampa so we can throw a joint awareness fundraiser for Indian Americans and our political process?”
We held a huge fundraiser. We got a lot of awareness from national media and Indian American media. Just last week, another one of my fellow alumni was elected to the State House in Ohio.
Slowly but surely, politics, education and business all go together. The Washington Leadership Program shaped my career. I’m hoping that it shapes many others. We all still stay in touch.
You said that these are juniors in college. That is what the Washington Leadership Program is geared towards?
It is sophomores, juniors and seniors.
Are you intrigued by the Washington Leadership Program? What interests you? Share with us in the comments section below.
The above is an excerpt from Jasbina’s interview with Aakash Patel
The entire interview transcript is at: Aakash Patel NetIP (Network of Indian Professionals) Interview – Entrepreneurship: How He Did It, How You Can Do It, Too
Listen to the entire interview on: Intersections Match Talk Radio – Jasbina’s Lifestyle Show