Position: Public Policy Fellow for Public Knowledge
Topics of Interest: Tech Policy, Artificial Intelligence, Economics, Copyright Regulations
Technology moves fast. I mean, really fast! Not too long ago, people were taking pictures with hand-held cameras. Instead, we use our phones today. Now we have a crazy amount of technology available right at our fingertips. It’s a scary but awesome idea, isn’t it? From self-driving cars to AI at home, there’s a tech-revolution going on whether we like it or not!
Oscar Lopez is a sophomore and Canfield BHP major. Over the summer he held an internship with the Google Public Policy Fellowship in Washington, D.C. The program offers undergraduate, graduate, and law students interested in Internet and technology policy the opportunity to spend the summer contributing to the public dialogue on these issues, and exploring future academic and professional interests. Because Oscar is from my hometown of Laredo, Texas, I listened eagerly as he spoke about his experience at the fellowship and his learnings on how the tech industry has changed and will continue to change moving forward. I also wanted to know how these changes will affect a small town like Laredo.
Tell me about the Google Public Policy Fellowship.
Google’s program gives undergraduates, law students, and others, the chance to work in DC – within a public interest organization – to have a deep dive into tech policies that range from broadband access to privacy. You know? The future of artificial intelligence. Throughout the summer, the rest of the fellows and I worked within our individual organizations. We worked on several things like SEC filings, conducted legal research, and posted blog pieces to reinforce our skills, while also getting real-world experience in public policy. We got to explore what the tech world is like in D.C.
What piqued your interest in this internship specifically?
From a young age, I knew I was interested in public policy. Largely, out of a want to improve my community. In fact, while I was over there, I found out that Laredo is a city that has the worst access to broadband. My interest in public policy came from my community. My interest in technology came somewhat with my fascination in all of the technological advancements that have happened in the past few years. I knew that I wanted to do something that joined those two interests this summer. The moment I found out about the opportunity, I thought it was the perfect time for me to get involved.
Tell me about what you learned.
I really learned how the world works. How the policy world specifically worked for different organizations. How companies work together with members of Congress and federal agencies to enact change that will improve the country’s access to different technologies. However, I went in with some knowledge. So much of what I focused on was broadband access and copyright policy. Additionally, I worked on some of the implications and biases we come up with in artificial intelligence. These are all things I hadn’t really known a lot about before coming in. For example, I didn’t know what the legal precedent was or what the current laws around these topics were. My job required me to dive deep into bills of law, orders, and acts. It really forced me to learn and helped me gain a deeper understanding of something that I might not have known a lot about before.
How can future students with similar interests get involved in something like this?
I found this opportunity by searching for high-quality opportunities on Google and this came up. As soon as I saw it, I applied. Also, I highly recommend paying attention in BA101! The class was a huge help to me. It helped me enhance my resume so that it looked its best and truly prepared me for my interviews. I felt like I had all the abilities and knowledge necessary to excel. Additionally, I reached out to some people that worked in some of these organizations and asked them to provide an overview of what their work entails so that when it came time for me to interview, I had that knowledge. I also encourage everyone to have informational interviews. Reach out to people that can provide a useful network that you can use to learn more about what it’s actually like working in that field.
If you’re working at an internship in D.C. or just there for fun, Oscar highly recommends eating at Hill Country BBQ. It’s the only BBQ in D.C. that earned his seal of approval. If his taste in BBQ is anything like mine, then I’d be inclined to make the trip too! While you’re there, Oscar explained that everyone should visit the museums, the Capitol, courts, and monuments. He mentioned that even a nice walk through the beautiful neighborhoods would be a good idea.
Visit the Google Public Policy Fellowship site for more information about this opportunity. If you’d like to read more on Oscar’s work, check out his SEC filing here and read his article on how and why textbooks keep getting expensive.