Works and Days

Center for Democracy and Technology, Reed Winter Externship Program, Eloise (Anqi) Chen

Anqi (Eloise) Chen, first-year psychology major, spent a week working with Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) as her Reed’s winter externship program. CDT is a multinational nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC that aims to preserve the user-controlled nature of the Internet and champion freedom of expression.

The externship I took part in was not even listed on the Winter Externship Program page. Paul Alan Levy, an attorney in Washington, DC and also a Reed alumnus redirected me to Erik Stallman, who offered this opportunity. I highly appreciate the fact that they acknowledged my prior experiences in the legal industries back in my hometown Shanghai, China while reviewing my application.

CDT is located at Farragut Square, the center of a bustling business district in Capitol Hill. Like many other employers in D.C., I spent about an hour commuting from Silver Spring, Maryland to work every day. The first day I came to the firm, I was immediately struck by the sense of familiarity: an incredibly dynamic and efficient work environment as I have experienced in a law firm in Shanghai. A major and critical difference was that I would have to communicate out of my mother tongue. Despite the fact that I had done an extensive amount of preparation with the law-related aspects of the U.S., from watching Boston Legal to reading various articles, there were still more professional vocabularies and terms than those I had encountered in my life. You have to love challenges!


All the employers at the firm were maximally responsive, articulate, fast, and effective with their work and collaboration. I too, had grown gradually accustomed to the jargons and the atmosphere. I became increasingly invested in my job. My job was essentially researching about Ex Parte Filings on Section 706, Title II and etc. that are related to Net Neutrality. "Net neutrality is the concept that your Internet provider should be a neutral gateway to everything on the Internet, not a gatekeeper deciding to load some sites slower than others or impose fees for faster service.” - NPR's Elise Hu. Net Neutrality is a very relatable issue to everybody’s life. Therefore, it was only natural that I immersed myself into those filings and learned to skim through the lengthy paragraphs and began to see the pattern of the Ex Parte letters: how words could be manipulated in a subtle manner to suit one’s own intention. I also did participated in clerical support. All in all, it was such a pleasure to be in an organization with incredible team morale.

Notably, at the firm everybody was very helpful explaining things other than work. For example, how they chose to become a member of CDT. This externship made me wonder what my career path could be like and how I shape my daily life towards it. This externship has broadened my horizon of how I could integrate my academics into career life and given me a positive anticipation of my future.

Tags: reed winter externship , democracy, technology, law, attorney, washington dc, net neutrality