National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)
Internet Policy Specialist, Office of International Affairs
NTIA is a U.S. Government agency within the Department of Commerce that is responsible for advising the Executive Branch on technology policy issues. It plays a prominent role in global Internet governance and is notable for spearheading the transfer of the global domain name system (DNS) to an open multistakeholder policy model through the creation of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
As a policy specialist in NTIA’s Office of International Affairs, I helped manage US participation in ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). This included:
- Researching, monitoring, and writing on policy issues in the GAC agenda, such as the effort to bring domain registration (WHOIS) data into compliance with the GDPR; the attempted sale of PIR, the .org domain registry, to a private equity firm; ICANN transparency and accountability; and the introduction of new gTLDs like .amazon.
- Briefing senior NTIA officials in preparation for high-level meetings and public engagements on DNS policy matters, including Congressional testimony.
- Managing the DNS Interagency Working Group, the mechanism through which federal government entities discuss and formulate official positions on current DNS policy issues.
- Maintaining relationships with external DNS policy stakeholders from the private sector, civil society, Internet governance bodies, and foreign governments.
- Supporting the U.S. GAC Representative by participating in ICANN working groups, mailing lists, ad-hoc meetings and plenary sessions to advance official policy positions.
In addition to ICANN and DNS policy issues, I also helped administer NTIA’s contract with the .us country code top-level domain registry operator; assisted with internal efforts to improve collaboration between NTIA’s domestic and international policy offices; participated in meetings of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF); and supported the US delegation to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)’s Development sector.
This role was a culmination of my effort over the past several years to position myself at the intersection of technology, public policy, and international relations. It also provided me the opportunity to fulfill my Boren Scholarship federal service obligation. My public and private sector colleagues commended me on my ability to learn quickly, communicate clearly on complex matters and forge alliances with a variety of stakeholders with diverse perspectives.
Senior Research Analyst, Technology Practice
Gartner is a leading research and advisory company with a focus on information technology. As part of the Peer and Practitioner Research division (formerly CEB Global), my team took seriously the idea that people are the best experts in their own lives. My job as a qualitative researcher was to uncover and distill practical insights out of tech executives’ day-to-day business challenges for use in published research products. This involved:
- Working closely with client company executives, subject matter experts, quantitative researchers, and Gartner Analysts to refine and pressure-test research questions, hypotheses, and solutions.
- Planning, conducting, and reporting on in-depth primary research interviews with executives.
- Utilizing rigorous qualitative methodology to collate and analyze dozens of interview transcripts for each research question.
- Managing production of key research deliverables, including research studies, white papers, case studies, presentations and webinars.
In terms of research content, my main focus areas included project and program management, the product development cycle, agile & iterative methodologies, talent development, resource allocation, strategic planning, benefits realization, data analytics, and digital business transformation.
At Gartner, I was able to to hone in on qualitative research, a skill set that is vital and often neglected in an age when “data is the new oil” and numbers are supposed to speak for themselves. During my time here I thrived on the chance to become essentially a professional listener and conversation-maker. I also enjoyed collaborating with the newly-created team applying these methods to artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Albright Stonebridge Group
Executive Assistant, China Practice
Jan – July 2018
Albright Stonebridge Group is a DC-based consultancy specializing in government relations and strategic communication in international markets. ASG’s largest division by both personnel and revenue is its China Practice, led by firm principal Amy Celico. As Amy’s executive assistant, I served as something between a chief of staff and program manager for China-related work in the firm. This entailed:
- Coordinating among China Practice staff to manage production of client deliverables on tight deadlines.
- Tracking ongoing projects, client relationships, and business development prospects.
- Providing research and administrative support, including editing a weekly client-facing publication on China’s technology sector.
- Being a public face of the firm and the first point of contact for China Practice clients, as well as interfacing between the China Practice and the rest of the firm.
This was my first job upon finishing grad school and moving to DC. Although I was placed in the role on a fixed-term contract, it turned out to be an excellent learning opportunity, as I was thrown headfirst into the difficulty of managing numerous work products while keeping everyone happy in a very fast-paced and high-pressure environment. My Chinese language skills and work experience were an asset in this role and I appreciated the opportunity to stay abreast of current affairs in this area. The job was also a comprehensive introduction to the DC public policy world, and the relationships I made during this time have proved invaluable.
Interlude: In 2016-17, I took a break from professional life to pursue a Master of Science degree in Internet Studies at the University of Oxford.
Northwest Tennessee Workforce Board
Public Relations and Program Administration Assistant
Feb – Sep 2016
The Northwest Tennessee Workforce Board is a local government entity tasked with promoting economic development through a variety of programs for job seekers and employers. I was brought on to help increase public awareness of our services within the local community as well as to help administer a career training program for students in some two dozen local high schools. Here are some of the specific things I worked on:
- Producing publicity materials, surveys, and internal reports, including research, interviews, graphic design, copywriting, and editing.
- Managing web and social media presence, including building out a new modern website and content management system.
- Running career training workshops for rural high school students across a multi-county area.
- Streamlining and automating a previously manual data collection process to track student progress through our job placement program.
I also served as the team lead for a Design Thinking course bringing together labor and workforce development entities from all over West Tennessee. Our project, which we called “Same Page,” aimed to improve service provision in rural areas by building communication capacity among our respective offices, which served highly overlapping communities. In my role, I organized and facilitated meetings across 21 counties to brainstorm, design, prototype, test, and begin implementing our initiative.
After having spent much of the previous three years studying and then working as a social media analyst in China, this fixed-contract position allowed me to gain some hands-on public service experience a little closer to home prior to beginning my Master’s degree in the UK. This period was formative for me as I continued laying the groundwork for several of my long-term interests and skillsets, particularly around communication and design research facilitation.
Kantar Media CIC (Shanghai)
Research & Consulting Analyst
CIC is a market research consultancy and software company that pioneered Chinese social media monitoring before being acquired by WPP’s Kantar Media in 2012. At a time when the Chinese Internet was still mysterious to the English-speaking world, CIC’s platform enabled large-scale analysis of consumer segments, brand health, and campaign performance for multinational clients. My responsibilities covered both technical and client-facing work, specifically:
- Coding search parameters and building custom keyword models for bulk social media data collection and natural language processing.
- Data analysis and interpretation of public opinion trends within the Chinese social media landscape, particularly on Weibo, WeChat, Youku, Zhihu, and BBS forums.
- Producing data visualizations, written reports, slide decks, and dashboards for clients in tech, FMCG and automotive verticals.
- Preparing for and participating in client pitches, product deliveries, white paper releases, and other external meetings.
Although our client meetings and deliverables were mostly in English, research and company business were conducted entirely in Chinese, and I was the only foreign employee throughout my time here.
This job began as an internship during my Capstone Year following graduation as a Chinese Language Flagship student at the University of Mississippi, by which point I had reached “Superior” language proficiency as assessed by the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview. After six months, I successfully applied to stay on as a full-time employee and continue sharpening my skills as a data analyst and deepening my knowledge of Chinese internet culture. This experience also became the foundation for my application to study at the Oxford Internet Institute.