Halfway there!

"Chocolate Thursday" Outing - Every Thursday all the interns go to a chocolate store around the corner. We go to this specific shop because its products are fair trade.
“Chocolate Thursday” Outing – Every Thursday all the interns go to a chocolate store around the corner. We go to this specific shop because its products are fair trade.
Lincoln Memorial
Bernice (a close friend and fellow Brandeis student) visited me one weekend. This is us in front of the Lincoln Memorial

It’s hard to believe that my time at NCL is halfway over. I’ve grown accustomed to my daily routine and it feels second nature to hop on the metro and arrive at the office to begin my day. Washington D.C. is flooded with a new population of interns and young professionals, especially during the summer. It is exciting to be experiencing the city during this time of the year. The other interns and I have become good friends and supportive colleagues. We help each other with projects and provide insightful feedback. My colleagues have impressive backgrounds and they are extremely helpful in that they are always willing to offer me advice or assistance in any way that they can. The other interns and staff members are older and more experienced than I am so it is insightful to be exposed to the different roles that they play within the organization and the manner in which they each complete their tasks.
My week at National Consumer’s League begins with a staff meeting every Monday. Everyone gathers in the conference room to discuss their agenda for the remaining week. We announce any new projects and assign people to work on them throughout the week. We also do a “current events” of recent consumer issues in the news. Then we say all the meetings we will be attending at Capitol Hill to determine which congressional members or senators we would be in contact with to advocate for a certain bill or law. I usually head over to my cubicle/workspace and begin on my assignment for the day. We have set deadlines for our projects so I try to gather all my research and data early in the process. I think the most stimulating aspects of my work are in the beginning of the week when I start a new research assignment or project. For example, this week, my assignments were to research consumers’ perceptions of drug prices and the pharmaceutical industry in general. I also really enjoy attending meetings on the Hill because I get to witness the legislative process and the more proactive efforts on NCL’s part. Other times, attending panel discussions are also really insightful and relevant to the work that I am doing. World of Work has differed from academic life in that there has been a lot more freedom and self-initiative involved in this experience. In a classroom setting, you are often given instructions and assignments. However, this internship experience is really what you make of it. Even if a project is not necessarily under my department, I will ask to be a part of it if it seems interesting. The head department supervisors are great about letting interns be a part of various projects and they really make the effort to cater to our interests.
Something that I’ve learned at my organization is how to write consumer friendly blog posts. I think this is an important skill that will help me in the future because it’s one thing when experts are knowledgeable but it is also really important that the general public is well-informed and educated in consumer issues. I am also constantly honing my research, analytic and writing skills. These are skills that are transferrable to many jobs, especially if I want to pursue a career in public policy. I am still practicing my networking skills. This past week, I attended an intern lunch at Google’s DC office. Google offers a public policy fellowship and one of the interns at NCL, Mike, is a Google Fellow. The whole event was very exciting and I had the fortunate opportunity to speak to people who work for public interest. Understanding the path they took to reach their current career positions was extremely helpful since I’m still not quite sure what my future plans are after graduation, specifically if I want to begin working immediately, attend graduate school or possibly attend law school.

Elese Chen

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