Meet NCL’s 2014 summer interns – National Consumers League

NCL is happy to have great interns with us this summer. The office is bustling with busy bodies as our intern team of six work hard to help us achieve our goal of helping American consumers and workers.

Connor Barniskis –LifeSmarts

Florida State University ’15 I am going into my senior year at Florida State University and am double majoring in Political Science and Criminology. Although I currently live most of the year in the “Sunshine State” I am originally from “the land of the ice and snow” Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Spending a summer in DC is something I have always dreamed about and I am thrilled with the opportunity to work for the NCL.

The road to interning at the National Consumers League was opened to me by American University’s Washington Semester Program. I was looking for a program that could give me firsthand experience in DC as well as harmonize with my current beliefs and values. After working with my advisor from American University, I discovered and applied for this internship. Believing strongly in consumer rights and safety, I find the NCL work in protecting the average American inspiring. Furthermore, their LifeSmart’s program which helps younger students become intelligent and aware consumers is something that I am proud to help work on. I see it as an opportunity to help change someone’s life by building the LifeSmart’s Program to greater heights. I am also interested in learning more about consumer fraud and the policy and regulations the NCL supports.

I studied abroad my freshmen year and currently work for the International Programs Office at Florida State University during the Fall and Spring as a student recruiter.  I hope to one day work for the State Department as a member of the Foreign Service. It will be a long road but I hope that the tools I will learn here at the NCL will take me to my destination. 

Traveling is a part of who I am and I love seeing how everything here in Washington DC works. I hope to keep learning and growing from my experiences here at the NCL and will apply them to wherever I end up in the future.

Chris Beal – Public Policy

Just wanted to take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Chris Beal and I’ll be joining the NCL for the summer as their 2014 Google Policy Fellow. I grew up in Detroit and attended Wayne State University, where I received a B.A. in English. My interest in policy work – especially with regard to socially responsible business practices – probably began during my time there. After undergrad I spent a few years working as a consultant for a number of startups and tech companies. That work sparked in me an interest in the way law interacts with both emerging technology and public policy.

So, to the surprise of absolutely no one, I decided to go to law school. I packed my bags and moved from the Midwest to NYC, where I attended Brooklyn Law School. My studies there were focused primarily on matters related to Internet, Information Privacy, and Intellectual Property law. While there I had the opportunity to participate in the law school’s BLIP Clinic, a clinic focused on public policy, emerging technology, and entrepreneurship. This afforded me with the opportunity to meet with a vast array of policymakers and innovators, and to work on a number of interesting legal issues. One such project was my work with the App Developers Alliance, which led to the development of their Patent Troll Defense Network. The Network provides developers and small companies targeted by patent trolls with pro bono support and access to legal clinics.

I am especially excited to be working with the NCL because I will be able to continue my work on tech issues in a way that will have positive, real-world effects on public policy. In an increasingly interconnected world, where the Internet is almost unavoidable in everyday life, I believe it is important that public policy works to adequately protect individuals. Law and legislation can be slow to evolve, and technology is ever the opposite, so it is imperative that there be individuals and agencies dedicated to helping one stay apace of the other. 

Aaron Dai – Public Policy

My name is Aaron Dai and I am a rising junior at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. At Brandeis, I am a double major in Politics and International and Global Studies with a planned double minor in Legal Studies and Anthropology. When I am not writing papers for multiple politics courses, I participate in the Brandeis Academic Debate and Speech Society. I also enjoy being active, playing basketball and swimming whenever I can find time. I first discovered NCL through my university’s career website. After learning more about the organization and its mission and purpose through NCL’s website, I decided that the League would be a wonderful place to gain firsthand experience with regard to the field of public policy and its effects on the consumer population.

I had come quite close to being scammed a few years ago. I received numerous phone calls regarding trips, cruises and cash prizes after I answered a poll question on Facebook. The experience made me realize the importance of informing consumers like myself about possible scams and fraud.  The experience also revealed to me how ordinary people are so easily susceptible to these scams. Thus, the many things that the League is doing with regard to consumer advocacy in the field of consumer protection and fraud in particular makes me extremely excited to be able to work in this field.

I am eager to immerse myself in the work that the League does this summer. In addition to getting myself acquainted with the field of consumer advocacy during my time with the League, I hope to gain a new perspective with regard to public policy and be able to apply the principles and approaches of consumer advocacy utilized by the League to the issues that affect the broader global consumer population. 

Julie Duffy – Child Labor Coalition

Hi, my name is Julie Duffy and I was born and raised in Rochester, New York. However, after eighteen cold and bitter winters I decided to move to the West Coast in search of mild temperatures and snowless winters.  I currently attend the University of San Francisco. However, I will be starting my junior year this fall studying abroad in Amman, Jordan. I am majoring in international studies with a concentration in international economics and a double minor in Middle Eastern studies and public service and community engagement. I am the vice president of USF’s Mexican folk dance club Baile Folklorico de San Pancho as well as member of our Model Arab League delegation. Additionally, I enjoy spending time outdoors, hiking, camping and playing tennis.

I became familiar with the National Consumers League from American University’s Washington semester program, of which I am participating this summer. I have a passion for social justice and I felt that interning with the Child Labor Coalition was a great opportunity for me to engage in the fight against child labor both domestically and abroad. I look forward to the many opportunities this summer offers including learning about important consumer advocacy issues and improving my personal awareness of consumer issues. I am also excited to spend the summer in DC and explore the city! 

Alesha Mitchell – Communications

I have been reading Bishop T.D. Jakes’ “Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive.” I began reading this book first, because Oprah said so and second, because I wanted to know how to effectively live on instinct. I wanted to be assured that I could trust myself and know that my decisions are products of good seeds sown. My relationship with God was and is stronger than ever and I feel myself navigating towards destiny.

In his book, Bishop writes about the giraffe and the turtle. He explains that the giraffe, in its grand stature, is equipped with a 25-pound heart in order to maintain the circulatory flow of blood through its extended neck into its intelligent brain. Bishop then describes how newborn turtles instinctively search for the ocean waters after being hatched on sandy ground. Why is this relevant? Too often, many of us are so distracted by things, other’s opinions, and our own insecurities that we do not hear what we already know deep inside of us. Bishop states that if the giraffe attempts to bend its head to the level of the turtle that the giraffe will inevitably pass out; thus suggesting that the giraffe must operate on the level for which it was designed.

Because I have such a huge heart, I have to keep my head lifted to the level of my destiny. I must not settle for the “status quo” of what society justifies as a career for a young adult woman. Additionally, I must not stand-back when issues arise. I refuse to work with an organization that does not encourage instinctive behavior. During this summer internship with the National Consumers League, I will contribute to this organization’s strive for the well being of all. I am Alesha D. Mitchell and I care.

Paige Whitney – Public Policy

I am a senior of Florida State University double majoring in International Affairs with a focus in Political Science. I am originally from Merrimack, New Hampshire but decided to leave the frigid temperatures for sunshine. I am happy to be back in the Northeast and begin my new adventure at NCL.

I am participating in the Washington Semester Program run by American University. With the help of my advisor at American University I found NCL and applied right away. I believe there is a strong value in consumer safety and awareness which many people across the country are not properly informed about. I am particularly interested in public policy issues which focus on protecting the consumer from fraud. Many consumers are not aware of the risk they place themselves in just by entering their information on a local website or by online shopping. I am also eager to learn more about the other areas NCL deals with such as labor interests and begin my summer here at NCL.

With a background in International Affairs I hope to take what I learn here, at NCL and transfer it on an international basis as a focus of what I hope to be doing in Graduate school. I love to travel and spent my freshman year at FSU in Florence, Italy and London, England. In the future I hope to attend a Graduate program abroad in Switzerland and broaden my experience with public policy to success in foreign policy.