Internship Series 2015: Federal Communications Commission with Mary Harman
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Internship Series 2015: Federal Communications Commission with Mary Harman

Hi. My name is Tami Santimyer and I’m an Admissions Counselor
with Gallaudet University. It’s my pleasure to share
with you an exciting internship story about one of Gallaudet’s pre-law students Mary Harman, who recently interned at the Federal Communications
Commission [FCC] in Washington, D.C. We will also meet
Gallaudet alumnus Greg Hlibok, an attorney and chief of the
Disability Rights Office at the FCC, who supervised Mary during her internship. Let’s follow Mary
on the job and learn how
she confirmed her desire to pursue a law career. We had a forum [recently] on wireless emergency
accessibility. Executives from different
companies, the FCC, and consumers were
on the panel. Questions were raised
such as: Are the wireless
products accessible, do they meet legal requirements for being deaf friendly, deaf-blind friendly, and
blind friendly? And how can we improve
accessibility? After the panel,
during lunch break we had vendors come in and
give a demonstration of their products that can be
used [to warn] deaf people in case of an emergency like
a tornado — products
such as pillows that vibrate, lights designed to blink, and wristbands
that vibrate. The FCC, which is the Federal
Communications Commission, is a federal
regulatory agency that oversees
policies and regulations related to communications. It oversees technologies
such as radio, television, telephone, satellite, and
some parts of the Internet – not the content,
but the delivery or, rather, the broadband. The FCC comprises
a variety of offices. One of those offices is the Disability
Rights Office or DRO. I’m the chief
of that office. DRO oversees the
accessibility aspect of technology and its
services and products. Basically, all of the
rulemaking decisions and directives have an impact
on communication access for people with
disabilities. Our oversight is to make
sure that any proposals up for consideration address the needs of people
with disabilities. For instance, there’s
a proposal to promote the transition of the current
phone network system, which is very outdated,
to an IP network. That’s the goal, but we
want to make sure that people with disabilities
do not get left behind and to ensure they have access to the newest
available technologies. That’s just one example. I wanted to expand
my legal knowledge. I wanted to work with
a deaf leader and coworkers and for a department that
addresses accessibility issues and advocates
for the deaf community. Mary has been very
helpful to this office and in what we do. There’s always a high work
load without any let up. The work flow is constant. I’ve given her some
projects to take over and given her the opportunity to take the lead
with oversight. I’ve given her new
petitions that are filed, some of them
20 or 30 pages long, when I didn’t
have time to review them. I ask her to review
and draft a summary of the petitions
and issues raised. Decisions made here
are not taken lightly. FCC attorneys are
very conscientious. Decisions have to be
reviewed carefully for any possible
implications and outcomes because they have an impact on
people’s ability to access and use communication
technologies. When I enrolled at
Gallaudet, I decided to major in business
[administration] and then decided later to
double major in government. The nice thing about both
majors is there is a lot of overlap between the two and lessons
learned in one major can be applied
to the other. With business, my concentration is in
law and marketing. These two have a lot
of legal concepts. The same thing is true
with a government major. Both of my academic
advisors were law students, and the nice thing about that is I’ve received first-hand
advice and tips from them. After I graduate, I plan
to go to law school, like Greg who was a law student
at Hofstra [University]. Who knows, after that
I may set up my own business, work for or set
up a [nonprofit] organization or partnerships. One thing I know for sure
is that I’ll be expanding my legal knowledge,
thanks to Gallaudet, this internship experience,
and my future law school. I can’t emphasize enough how important
the internship program is. I’ve benefited personally
[from an internship experience]. When I was
a senior at Gallaudet, I wasn’t sure about a law career
so I decided to pursue a semester long
internship at a law firm
in Silver Spring [Maryland]. Having that
hands-on experience convinced me to go into law. I’d like to emphasize that
student internships are a critical part
of the college experience. Your college experience
is what you make of it. Without internships and
after you enter the workforce, you’re pretty much stuck with the major
you started out with. The internship is a time
for you to make mistakes, learn what you don’t like, and meet colleagues
and get feedback. By the time you enter
the workforce, you’ll have a job you like and can then make a good
impression with your new boss. The second important thing is you won’t know what you
really want to do unless you give
the internship a try. Some find it’s not what
they want to do and then change direction, but
for others, the experience just confirms their
decision – and, in my case, that is to go
to law school. If I hadn’t had this
internship or previous ones, I may not even have
decided to go into law. So, you see, it can have
a domino effect on the direction
of one’s career. I strongly encourage
students to get out there and do internships. Some are hesitant, but if
you don’t take action, the answer is always no. You need to ask because you
never know what will happen or what you will
get out of the experience. Gallaudet’s location in
Washington, D.C., gives our students
limitless opportunities for internships, in many cases leading
to full-time positions. For more information
about Gallaudet and to see more stories
about student interns, visit the undergraduate
admissions page at Thanks for watching!

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