From ILR to National Policy

O'Connor '12 working at Federal Trade Commission
O'Connor '12 working at Federal Trade Commission
Wednesday, June 26, 2013

When Apple, Inc., Facebook, Viacom and other groups met with the Federal Trade Commission this fall, Alyssa O'Connor '12 was in the room to capture their remarks.

Her meeting summaries, posted on the commission's website, are part of the official record on proposed modifications to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

As an honors paralegal in the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the commission, O'Connor authored write-ups of high-level meetings between industry representatives and government officials.

Although the job has been "incredibly busy," O'Connor says she was primed for the role.

"The process of learning how to coherently and clearly state your thoughts — ILR did a fabulous job of developing my written and verbal communication skills."

"It has been exciting to apply my undergraduate education to the real world. Everything I've learned at ILR has helped me in what I’m doing now."

That also can mean analyzing, as part of the Federal Trade Commission's consumer protection role, substantiation for advertising claims.

"In some of those cases, it comes down to the statistical element of research." That's when O'Connor reaches back to her ILR statistics training in classes and as a teaching assistant.

On weekends, she often joins the Cornell Club of Washington for service work at community gardens or the Capital Area Food Bank.

O'Connor's office is at 600 Pennsylvania Ave. in a huge Classical Revival structure that has served as the commission's headquarters since 1938.

"I feel very fortunate to be part of something bigger than myself," she said, referring to the public service experience.

"I rely on so many skills I learned at ILR. The foundation is so solid. ILR lends itself to so many different fields. Those skills will take you anywhere."

In the fall, they will take O'Connor to law school, although she has not yet decided where.

A sense of belonging to ILR and Cornell will travel with her.

"Even though I've graduated, I feel like I've never truly left Cornell. It is a wonderful community."