My final week working at Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch was as action-packed as ever. For my last week only myself and one other intern remained, so we got a lot of one-on-one time with our supervisors, which was valuable for creating a stronger network. Our last few days happened to be the days right before (and during) the first round of NAFTA renegotiations, a critical point in our summer as much of our time was spent researching and campaigning to change/replace aspects of the agreement. The other intern and I had the amazing opportunity to attend a pre-negotiation discussion with some of the top trade representatives from Mexico at the Woodrow Wilson Center (part of the International Trade Center). Called “Mexico and the NAFTA Negotiations”, the panel included an economist from the Peterson Institute, several Mexican representatives, and several people from the Mexico Institute of the Wilson Center. The event was incredibly well-attended, and we got to hear some of the Mexican prospective on the negotiations before they happened (decidedly pro-NAFTA with a hope of some modernization of the agreement). It was a very valuable experience, and I was thrilled to be a representative from my organization at the meeting and able to report back to Global Trade Watch with event notes. More information on the Wilson Center here.
The director of Global Trade Watch also held a conference call with Congressman Ryan and Congresswoman Delauro to discuss the renegotiations, which the other intern and I transcribed to be sent out to our list serves. The rest of my week was spent packing and sending out “Action Packs” to those interested in organizing in response to the NAFTA negotiations. I also was able to have lunch with two of my supervisors, which helped me connect with them more and get to know them more as people.
At the end of my internship, I felt like I had met my learning goals for the summer. I learned a lot more about the inner workings of a non-profit (and the slight chaos that can go along with it), I learned about research techniques and some basic Excel skills (which are useful for the future), I got more comfortable making phone calls and phone banking, and I learned a lot about international trade, specifically focused around NAFTA and ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement, which is a problematic provision of NAFTA). I felt like I grew a lot as a part of the team and that the work I was doing really did help benefit the organization. I was also able to take charge on some of the Action Pack-ing and it was fun to be in a position of leadership. The internship helped solidify my interest in working at a non-profit, as I learned more about what it is really like to be there. It was very satisfying to feel like I was working for something that mattered, for the greater good. I realized that I like a challenge and being a leader when I can, and that it can be very good to step up and take charge. I would give a student looking to work at Public Citizen and just in the non-profit sector in general the advice to be flexible and expect a little chaos: you will end up doing a whole bunch of random things that you didn’t expect you would be doing, but it is a great opportunity to learn and grow. I am most proud of myself for keeping an open mind and learning a lot about NAFTA this summer, as well as of all of the projects I completed for the team. I felt like I was really able to help with their efforts, and I learned more about myself in the process.
I will miss working at Public Citizen (and living in D.C.!) but I am excited to go into senior year at Brandeis utilizing the tools that I learned over the summer and appreciating the clearer idea I have about what kind of work I may want to pursue. I am very grateful that WOW made this wonderful experience possible.