Over the summer I worked under The Consumer Federation of America's (CFA) Director of Financial Services. I spent my time learning the ropes of the financial services industry while researching and contributing to reports on issues important to consumers. It was an exciting time to be part of a consumer advocacy organization. Coming off of the recent financial collapse and the formation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, interest in consumer protection and the financial sector was growing.
I personally spent most of my summer focused on the small dollar consumer credit industry. I researched issues like installment loans and mobile lending, collected data, and helped compose reports on those topics. It ended up being an incredible experience because I was able to work on projects that benefited consumers while conducting original research and drawing new conclusions. I was also afforded the opportunity to attend conferences, lectures, and congressional hearings whenever possible to learn about the industry I was working in and about the intersection of government and consumer protection.
The best part about working at CFA was the chance to try something new. Over the course of the first year of the program I was introduced to numerous different types of organizations that I could work for, through programs like the Washington D.C. dialogues and networking events. The program expanded my horizon regarding the different ways that I could get involved with issues I am passionate about. This drove me to spend my summer working with a type of organization that I had never interacted with before. I had worked with non-profit organizations in the past, but never with one that had such a coherent approach to advocacy. My experience encouraged me to keep an open mind as I embark on the job hunt and made me realize just how applicable my training from the program is to many different types of fields.