An NYU Alum Goes from History Nerd to Future Politician
Alexander Smith’s NYU education led him in an unexpected direction
Exploring His Options
Alexander Smith, an NYU alum (College of Arts and Science, 2018) and Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar, never planned to work at Facebook. The self-professed history nerd says he was the “kid who would take every single club flyer and sign up for every organization’s email list,” when he first came to NYU in 2014. However, he soon began to set his sights on courses that involved public policy and social justice. He became CAS class president in his first year at NYU and spent his summers interning, first at the mayor’s office in his hometown of Kansas City, then at Generation Citizen, a Brooklyn initiative that teaches high schoolers the benefits of civic engagement. He later landed an internship at the White House during the Obama administration.
“NYU taught me how to communicate effectively and problem-solve in a fast-paced environment. Through rigorous coursework, one semester at NYU Madrid, and an internship at the Obama White House, I learned how to be comfortable with ambiguity and lead dynamic groups of stakeholders. NYU was challenging at times, but it taught me so much about the world, people, and myself.”
Though he admits to being extremely busy throughout his college career, now as an NYU alum, Alexander advises, “Find out what your interests are your first year and center your activities around that sphere, but don’t get overwhelmed or feel pressured to sign up for everything.” He also recommends finding a job, even if it has no direct relevance to your future career path, which for him may mean running for elected office. “A lot of opportunities, Facebook, for example, don’t relate exactly to history, but I think my background helps me better understand the past, and that makes it easier to know how to move forward in the future.”