The end

I spent this week shadowing in legal at World Wide Technology. I met with different people within the department–compliance officers, paralegals, and attorneys, mostly. I really enjoyed talking with each person and learning about what they do. I was also quite fascinated with how they got to their position. It really made me realize that there really is no single path. There was one attorney who went to college at 29 and finished law school at 40. Another joined the Department of Defense to escape the Vietnam draft and worked in intelligence for years before deciding to get a joint MBA and law degree to get a unique perspective on the field.

I was also struck by the kindness of everyone there. I was so welcomed, even though none of them had known me before. Everyone was so down-to-earth and generous with their time and advice. I appreciated that so much, and it really set a great example to me for how to treat younger, inexperienced people than I.

I can’t believe that my project is over. Seven weeks of this project whizzed by in a way that classes or summer never have, and it’s actually scared me a little bit that the rest of my life will go by this quickly. But I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this, and I’m pretty excited about my presentation as well.

Thanks for reading seven weeks (or in the teachers’ cases, four years) worth of my rambling. I promise I’m done.

A few second-to-lasts

Today was rather full. I met with four people, went to two meetings, and heard a really good speaker. Her name is Shelley Brindle, and she was the vice president of HBO. Then they tried to promote her to president but she wasn’t super interested and felt a little bit strangled so she quit and now she’s running for mayor of her little town in New Jersey. She was so cool and I really resonated with a lot that she had to say–if our political beliefs were more in line then I would’ve been freaked out at our similarities. The only sour bit was that the screen behind her the whole time said “Braking barriers” instead of “Breaking barriers”. I really couldn’t unsee it and it bothered me for an hour and a half.

Today is my second-to-last day at Mastercard. I’ve been getting to meet with some crazy influential people, like the girl who negotiates with the Chinese government and is actively expanding the free market. Or the guy who is pioneering QR paying technology in sub-Saharan Africa so that micro businesses can have a financial identity.

Second-to-last moments are my favorite type of moment. They mark the last time that things are normal–by the time it’s actually the last people are so preoccupied commemorating it that it turns into a totally different experience. Therefore, ironically enough, rendering the second-to-last moment the true last moment.

That being said, this week also marks the second-to-last one in my project at the second-to-last school I’ll be at. In a year of lasts, it’s refreshing to celebrate these instead.  In a different turn of the phrase, I’ve gotten to experience a lot of seconds that felt like they lasted forever. Rushing to jump on a train. Talking to Pence on the phone. Watching a vote go through in the last seconds. I met a really cool woman in HR yesterday–we seemed to talk forever.

So today was good and stimulating and interesting as always, but I wanted to make a second last long enough to talk about these second-to-lasts.

Several generalities and a note about the future

I think I’ve probably mentioned this before, but this project has reignited and re-excited me. I honestly had thought that I’d lost the idealism and excitement and ambition that has so defined most of my high school years, but I think doing these different internships and city-hopping and being independent has totally and completely refueled me and made me so so excited for the rest of my life. Which brings me to today’s list–all the super practical, tangible, and useful things Ive learned throughout this that can really help me pursue a career in the future.

1. I have more information and experience to know what type of company I’d like to work at. I’d prefer a global, growing, innovative environment that isn’t very old. I love the startup feel and I absolutely hate the idea of going by old conventions purely for the sake of it. The values need to align with mine, something I hadn’t considered until I saw that Mastercard’s were practically taken from my heart, as opposed to Edward Jones, which I don’t disagree with, but I’m not passionate about.
2. If you’re working for a global company, it seems like you can just make the case for why they should move you somewhere else and they will. There are people here in New York who’ve moved five or six times just because they asked to. And this is for sure something I want to do.
3. The main thing everyone (that I’ve talked to, anyway) looks for when hiring is capability to learn. It doesn’t matter how specific your degree is, you won’t know how to do the job on the first day. A woman I talked to today said that she absolutely wouldn’t hire anyone unless she saw passion, fire, and an excitement for learning.
4. Confidence is so so so so important. If you think you’re not worth anything, the people around you will sense that. You get to set your own value.
5. It’s not so hard to get a job. You see all of these horrible statistics about unemployment in college graduates, but everywhere I’ve worked is actually trying to hire entry-level people but isn’t finding people who graduated from a respected university with a) a real degree or b) good grades. It seems like if you have those three things you’re all set. I’ve been offered three jobs as a kind of joke and one for real so far.
Yeah, so kind of a summary would be that from what I’ve seen, it’s pretty easy to be successful at a young age if you’re just quick and engaging. People are so excited to hire and get new ideas that they’re offering these amazing salaries and building cool offices in skyscrapers to garner young talent. It’s such an exciting time to be on the verge of the workforce.


Today was my first day at Mastercard. An ordered list of things I did today:

1) Went to Mastercard and had to spend fifteen minutes figuring out where it actually was because Mrs. Frank accidentally told me 114 Broadway (which is in south Manhattan) when it’s 114 5th Avenue, which is Midtown. Luckily I didn’t actually go to south Manhattan but I almost did.

2) Went to a presentation on how to apply for a patent and the incentives Mastercard offers with each filing and approval.

3) Went to sit in on a huge team meeting. They had people Skype in from Singapore, London, and Pune.

4) Had lunch with Mrs. Frank and one of her team members, Missy.

5) Met with a Tunisian guy named David Liscia who helps oversee the software development for Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay.

6) Even though my day isn’t over I’m writing this because I have an unscheduled hour and I don’t want to look like I’m not doing anything.

Some things I’ve learned today:

1) Samsung Pay works by simulating a card swipe and fooling the magnetic strip–versus Apple and Android Pay working via Bluetooth. This is why they’re not all available at the same locations.

2) Since Mastercard doesn’t actually issue their cards, they’re reliant on big accounts like Citi, Bank of America, American Airlines, and others to issue them. Each of those has a person here who’s job is literally just to serve them and make sure they don’t switch over to Visa or something. I’ve been thinking of it a lot like the paper accounts at Dunder Mifflin and how Mr. Deckert was a huge client for them. That’s made this all a little easier to comprehend.

3) Mastercard is heavily incentivizing the patenting process in an effort to create more patents, and it’s working. I just signed a super detailed confidentiality thing and now I’m paranoid so I won’t put the numbers on the internet, but they’ve had a crazy increase in the number of patents filed since they paid people extra to do it. And they’ve also made the process super easy for the employees to complete with a dashboard that shows what’s still  pending, etc.

4) There’s legal definitions for all sorts of things that I didn’t realize were legal terms, like inventor.

5) Each company has stereotypes, and everyone seems to be quite aware of them. People from Samsung like to launch things with minimal testing and then iron out the kinks once they’re already on the market (hence the exploding phones). This can make it rather difficult for those employees to transition into a career at a very precise, trial-happy workplace like Apple or Mastercard.

6) They have to be super sure that their stuff works perfectly. Because if you’re at the grocery store with fifteen things at the register and your Mastercard gets falsely declined, you’ll just pull out your Amex, and then Mastercard loses business.

7) Last thing–false declines cost them 13 times as much revenue as actual fraud does. They’re currently in the brainstorming phase to work on cutting down false declines and some pretty futuristic, biometric stuff is in the works. It’s crazy to hear about that stuff as realistic possibilities.




First day of the show

Today was quite exhausting. We worked for twelve hours–9:30 to 7:00 was the pre-show open to the press, but they actually ended up buying a ton of stuff which we hadn’t expected. This is the booth:

At 7:00 was a reception which was super cool to be part of. It was like Natasha’s Career As An Undercover High Schooler in the Adult World times eight. It was quite fancy and posh and like the parties that were on the early episodes of Gossip Girl. You know how that type of person who went to boarding school in Connecticut  and then took the predictable trust fund route from there speaks with a sort of British accent even though they’re totally not British? That’s how a lot of these people were. But there were also a lot of up-and-coming designers from Brooklyn who were really fun to talk to. It’s crazy getting to see the inside of this sort of art-dealing world–I don’t get the picture that many get to experience it.





May the fourth (be with you) (sorry) (obligatory though)

Today was pretty much the same as yesterday and we finished setting up the store for the pop up tomorrow. I’m excited to see which designers sell and which don’t. I know which ones I would buy, but I feel like I definitely have different taste/values than the crowd in trendy, hippie, sometimes impractical Brooklyn.

On a mostly unrelated note (but is anything truly unrelated? A thought for your Thursday), I’ve kind of put my finger on why I love cities like New York and Bangkok and London so much.

I tried to go to sleep fifteen minutes ago and I had to close my shades. It was physically too bright for me to go to sleep–the light radiated through my eyelids. Everything is so lovely and electrifying that it actually keeps me from doing something boring like sleeping.

But mostly, it’s cities like this that remind me of why I’m so excited to be alive and have so much future ahead of me. The incessant bustle is a 24 hour reminder to me to go the extra mile, to do exciting things even if I’m tired, to be motivated and ambitious and hungry. It reminds me to keep outrunning my biggest fear: becoming suffocated, jaded, pessimistic and empty.

I can’t help but think that light is the most perfect metaphor in a world of imperfect metaphors. The opposite is darkness and death and oblivion–and two of the most feared things are darkness and death. And if people ever thought about it, I’m firmly convinced that oblivion would be too.

Anyway, I’m not really sure where I’m going with this but it’s an interesting thought train that I’m planning on pursuing further in the morning.

But to put it simply: I feel motivated like I haven’t been in years. I’m ambitious and hungry. I’m back to reading and writing and thinking about all sorts of tricky things. The credit is rather split up–a combination of some fortunate events, I suppose. New York. Independence at last. No burden on my shoulders. Some certainty about my next four years. And mostly this project, probably. And maybe the fact that I’m living on a steady diet of challa and brie (which I didn’t even realize was my dream in life until I discovered the combination on Monday).

Anyway pt. 2: that’s seriously not relevant but my day wasn’t very interesting so I thought I’d share with you the fact that I seem to be having the opposite of an existential crisis (not sure what that would be called) for once, in my dramatic, mystery-plagued adolescence.

Anyway pt. 3 (sorry I swear this is the last one!!): since I’m on a roll here I wanted to share another couple of thoughts–I think lots of young people seem reckless because at this age, death is often too abstract a concept to be feared. Also grammar was totally made up by humans and so were the shape of these letters but somehow as I type these in New York you’ll read them in your head hundreds of miles away exactly as I intended and that just absolutely amazes me and I really need to go to sleep now so I am seriously ending this post right now. Thanks for listening to my rambling and you should seriously be thankful that you’re not with me in person right now because I’m sure it’s at least twelve times more obnoxious.

May 3rd–a summary and a list

Today we worked at the Brooklyn Expo Center (which is awesome because it’s half a block from where I’m staying and the office is in Williamsburg, a 20 minute bike ride from me). It took ages to set up and we still aren’t done, but we have another day until the show on Friday.

I thought I’d compile a list of a few things I’ve had to become adept at/some general tidbits:

1. Explaining why I’m not in school (“My school basically doesn’t make us take classes for the fourth quarter of our senior year if we do internships or otherwise justify how we’re using that time”). Everyone says they wish they had it. I wish everyone got to have it too.

2. Remembering to check in for my Southwest flight exactly 24 hours ahead. (Just kidding because I’m actually 0/3 on this one but I’m really hoping I remember this time)

3. Generally figuring out how to get places and budgeting time. I give myself an extra twenty minutes if I need to be someplace on time and I just grab a coffee if I’m early. I’ve almost been late a few times, so I can’t imagine what would’ve happened had I not left twenty minutes early.

4. Surreptitiously checking Apple Maps so that the other people on the bus don’t know that I’m not from New York or Washington.

5. I’ve become quite good at consolidating the 18,000 reasons why I’m going to St Andrews into two or three sentences.

6. Learning the dress code from how everyone else dresses. The rules vary SO much between Edward Jones, the House, and now ADC. No one outright says it–you have to pick up on it from everyone else.

7. It’s SO important to be friendly and talkative and to let people know you. Oh my goodness. I’m so glad that I’m of the extroverted persuasion because if I hadn’t been, this whole project would have been 100% less fun, exciting, and fulfilling. Which leads me to:

8. Planning a project you’ll actually enjoy is so important. I think a lot of the stuff I’m enjoying about my project is totally by chance because I did not plan it as well or as ahead of time as I could’ve. But I have enjoyed these past four weeks like nothing else. But most people find that their senior projects teach them which fields they don’t want to go into–I’ve found quite the opposite. I have so many uber exciting dreams now and I don’t even know what is realistic and I don’t even want to know because the weight of reality is often so burdensome and awfully incorrect. So here I am, sitting on a couch in a really cute brownstone in Brooklyn and I. Absolutely. Cannot. Wait. For the rest of my life.

May 2nd

Today was my first day at the American Design Club in Brooklyn. I’m spending five days with them, helping to organize, set up, and run a pop-up at the Brooklyn Art Expo.

The show is Friday-Sunday, so today we were at the office organizing. The old Navy Yard has been turned into an industrial park, and their offices and workshops are all set up there. We mainly needed to do inventory. We assigned SKU codes to every product that would be sold (there are over 600–they range from necklaces to coasters to light fixtures) and counted everything before we boxed it up to be sure the right number of things were in the Square system.

I also got to use QuickBooks for the first time which was kind of cool because I’ve heard people in the office talking about it for years.

The office is quite small–Dani, who I knew, a builder named Alex, a new employee named Jacqueline, and the owner named Kiel. It’s a really cool, artistic environment. They’re all clearly so creative and have such great taste. It’s a bit of fresh air after four weeks in formal offices.

An ending & a beginning

Working the Hill was the coolest thing I’ve ever done, and will ever do. I’m seventeen and I’ve peaked. A sad reality.

Man, in the last couple of months I forgot that I liked to learn. I wasn’t interested in reading–I stopped practicing piano. But this leg of the project really reignited that fire for me. I think I’ll be able to get more out of the next three weeks because of it.

An important thing I learned about myself (that I kind of already knew but this really made it apparent): injustice motivates me like absolutely nothing else. Oh boy. And I felt like lots of it was going on, but subtly. As I’m sure you’ve gleaned from my blogging thus far, I think that lots of news outlets are not reporting the truth about what is happening at the House of Representatives. Bernie Sanders posted this last Wednesday:

But an amendment to the healthcare bill that took out special treatment of congressmen had been put in on Tuesday night, almost 24 hours before this post. I’m honestly not trying to get political here and this is not pointed specifically at Bernie Sanders–this was just the most pertinent example to what our office was working on at the time.

It’s happening from both sides of the aisle and also about non-governmental issues. A very major thing I took away from this is that people, newspapers, and bloggers all blatantly lie. It’s truly shameless. The government was never going to shut down–a budget proposal to extend the deadline had been in the works for weeks. But major outlets are not going to report that because they literally profit off of the panic of the public. The longer you scroll, the more ads you see, the more money they make. It’s a joke.

Also, a moment of truth: if you call your Congresman and rant about how awful the new healthcare bill is for fifteen minutes and rudely accuse all the interns of trying to kill your grandmother–it’s still just going to be put into a spreadsheet as “vote no for HR1628.” That’s all. So save yourself some time and breath and simply say, “Please vote no on HR1628.” There’s no need to be nasty, no matter how strongly you feel about an issue. Tone won’t change the result.

An increased disillusionment with the media is probably my biggest takeaway. Seeing the discrepancy between what is actually happening at the Capitol and what’s being reported is just staggering.

On a lighter note, I flew into New York today and I’m going to start working with a textile company tomorrow. I’m pretry excited about it, but like I said, I think I’ve peaked. There’s no way it’ll be as cool as the House was.

Foreign Account Taxes Compliance Act

I forgot to do my blog post yesterday, so here it is:

The most exciting part of my day was definitely the FATCA hearing. FATCA is an act that Obama signed into existence that authorizes unconstitutional privacy breaches of American citizens living abroad–over 9 million of them. It forces any bank with American clients to comply with stringent IRS investigations. It costs each individual bank over $200 million to comply. As a result, banks won’t take American citizens as clients anymore. In Switzerland, 410 out of the 420 major banks will not even consider an American as a candidate to hold an account.

The hearing room for the Committee on Government Oversight and Reform

Because of this, Americans have been renouncing their citizenships in record numbers because they have no other way to achieve financial stability. One man who testified described himself as an “economic refugee”.

The hearing was really interesting–both sides of the story were presented but the argument for repealing FATCA clearly won. It was something that I care about, which was cool. It would’ve been a huge problem for me next year (trying to get an account in Scotland), but it looks like it could be repealed before I get there.