A few rows in front of me, Ralph Nader is giving an introductory speech with a crowd of roughly 100 people watching. Sitting on either side of him are leaders of various advocacy groups such as Public Citizen and EPIC. Thus began my first day of work at the National Consumers League in Washington, DC. I had barely arrived at the League office before I was sent out by my supervisor to attend Nader’s event called Unstoppable Right/Left Convergence. This event brought together both left and right-wing advocacy groups to find common ground on many pressing social issues such as the defense budget, child exploitation through commercialization, and the minimum wage in the United States.
I am a Public Policy intern for the National Consumers League, which is a non-profit consumer advocacy group that was first founded in 1899. I discovered the National Consumers League internship position through the Hiatt Career Center’s World of Work program in late November of 2013. I subsequently began applying for the position through BHired and secured the internship in early April of 2014. As the Brandeis Fellow of the NCL, I am responsible for assisting both the Vice President and the Executive Director of the League with a variety of projects throughout my internship. At the present moment, the League is preparing for a Congressional hearing regarding the Location Privacy Protection Act of 2014 that was introduced by Minnesota’s junior senator Al Franken in late March of this year.
My first week working at the League was extremely hectic but also quite exciting. I learned a great deal about various topics such as international trade law through the lectures that were given by the representatives of the consumer advocacy and public interest groups at the Nader event. Assisting my supervisor with preparations for a Congressional hearing has allowed me to focus in-depth on one particular piece of legislation (in this case the Location Privacy Protection Act introduced by Senator Franken) and dissect the nuances of the bill. Through this research, I have become much more aware of the way mobile phone companies and data brokers manage and store consumers’ personal information. I have become acquainted with a number of my fellow colleagues during the first week of my work and look forward to getting acquainted with my fellow interns once they arrive beginning next week. The League staff are all very cordial and are an absolute pleasure to work with. They certainly do care a great deal about the interns, frequently asking me if I needed anything.
Looking forward, I hope to gain more knowledge with regard to the implementation of public policy and to analyze in-depth the effects and implications of those policies for the general consumer population. Through the various projects and research that I will be conducting and assisting with, I expect that my writing skills will drastically improve and my research skills will be greatly sharpened. Perhaps most importantly, I believe that I will gain a new perspective with regard to the field of consumer advocacy and public policy as I progress in my work. My first week is rapidly coming to a close amidst a flurry of activity that began with the Ralph Nader conference and is ending with making preparations for the Congressional hearing next week. If the initial days are any indication of what is to come, I simply cannot wait to see what the coming weeks at the League have in store.
– Aaron Dai ’16