Category: Alumni, Discovery & Impact

Title: Tackling the Tech Industry

Author: By: Cordilia James
Date Published: November 20, 2020

When Kamila Saldanha (MPP ’19) was selected for the Twitter Public Policy Fellowship, she was thrilled but apprehensive. “While Twitter’s mission to serve the public conversation strongly resonated with me, my only hesitation was about entering an unfamiliar industry. This was outweighed by the opportunity to collaborate with some of the brightest minds to advance policy solutions to pressing high technology issues.”

As a Policy Fellow in the DC office, Kamila managed a cross-functional project to help identify 2020 U.S. election candidates on Twitter, a key component of the organization’s broader election and civic integrity efforts. This involves working with a distributed team to verify Twitter accounts of candidates on the primary ballot for U.S. House, U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races and label these accounts once the candidate has qualified for the general election ballot. The blue verified badge lets people know that the account of public interest is authentic, while “labels add more context to tweets by providing candidate status and geographical information.”

It’s a project she feels most proud of. “The bar here is high, and my own has been raised as a result. Seeing the impact of my work through product improvements which help voters engage with more context and confidence around the election is incredibly rewarding.”

Apart from this, she also supports work for the Elections and Civic Integrity working group and #TwitterForGood (the company’s corporate philanthropic efforts). One of the highlights of her Fellowship was “Hack Week,” where Twitter employees take time away from their day-to-day work to collaborate with people from other teams to develop ideas they are passionate about. “This is an integral part of the culture here, and some of the best product features on the platform are a result of previous Hack Weeks,” she says.

It was this same yearning to learn from practitioners with unique personal, political and social perspectives that drew her to McCourt. “The diversity of experience, skills, thoughts and ideas here has reframed my perspective, stretched my imagination and shattered my comfort zone. Everyone brings something new to the table.”

The diversity of experience, skills, thoughts and ideas here has reframed my perspective.”

Kamila Saldanha (MPP ’19)

Kamila is also grateful for the training she received at McCourt, particularly the quantitative courses and Professor Wesley Joe’s Data Visualization elective which emphasized the importance of analytical rigor and strong data hygiene practices. She also relies heavily on the people and leadership skills she honed having served as a member of the student strategy team for the GU Politics Fellows Program, Treasurer of the Women in Public Policy Initiative and Co-Team Lead of the Policy Innovation Lab.

Diving into the tech industry helped Saldanha discover her passion and five years from now she hopes to continue with the Twitter public policy team.

“Twitter places a lot of trust in its Fellows and when I started in October 2019, little did I know that this same company would serve as a catalyst for my personal and professional goals. I have immense gratitude for the team, company and people I’ve met along the way. I know I’ll look back one day and pinch myself that I was here and part of it all.”


This post originally appeared in Policy Perspectives, the annual alumni magazine from the McCourt School of Public Policy. Click here to view the full digital magazine.