Advocacy: A Field of Free Food & New Friends

This summer, I am interning at National Consumers League, a non-profit group based in Washington, D.C. that advocates for the rights of workers and consumers. They promote social and economic justice in the U.S. and abroad by tackling a range of issues, from food safety to child labor. Their various public education campaigns and lobbying efforts fight for living wages, protect Americans from scams, and increase medication adherence among diabetic patients. I will be working with the executive director and focusing on projects within the realm of the food policy and health policy departments. Everyone who works at NCL is accomplished, inspiring, and very kind. One of my goals at NCL is to expand my professional network by connecting with co-workers and my co-interns at the NCL. One of my co-interns is working in child labor department and the other two are working with the Public Policy, Fraud and Telecommunications department. I planned an intern lunch to get to know them on my second day and one of my co-workers planned a staff lunch to get to know us. Throughout the week, I’ve enjoyed getting to know my co-workers and becoming friendly with them.

A representative from the National Cyber Security Alliance speaking at the Internet safety panel.
A representative from the National Cyber Security Alliance speaking at the Internet safety panel.

My first day, the head of the Public Policy, Fraud, and Telecommunications department showed me around the office and then we took a trip to Capitol Hill. On “the Hill”, we attended a panel on Internet safety, the first of the 5 panels/briefings I attended this week. As we headed to the event, my new co-worker told me one of the best parts of working at NCL is getting to meet so many people. NCL staff attends many events around DC, to speak at them, lobby congressmen, or receive free food and new knowledge. We checked out the display of drinks and desserts at the event and then my co-worker greeted and introduced me to almost everyone in the room. Although I won’t be working on Internet safety this summer, I was excited to learn more about this line of work and connect with people who work at different organizations and agencies in DC. Cyber security policy representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, Facebook, and Google spoke at the event so I had the opportunity to learn more about how private corporations interact with public agencies and NGOs. Learning about these public-private intersections is crucial to gaining a deeper understanding of how advocacy and policymaking work. Throughout the summer, I plan to explore the field of advocacy and find out if this is what I am interested in pursuing after graduation.

TPP press conference
Press conference on Trans-Pacific Partnership

I’m working on various projects that involve researching policies and current issues in the U.S., from “female viagra” to fraud among life insurance companies. I have also helped out with some behind-the-scenes work, including editing a speech delivered at a Trans-Pacific Partnership press conference that I attended the next day and greeting guests at the NCL’s congressional briefing on child labor in tobacco fields. While researching legislation and issues during my internship, I hope to hone the research skills that I’ve developed during my past two years at Brandeis. I hope to come back after the summer with an improved writing ability and a better sense of policy issues. Having more knowledge about the policy environment of U.S. health will be helpful for my work in many of my Health: Science, Society, & Policy and Social Justice & Social Policy courses and for my future career path.

– Rebecca Groner ’17

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