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My Google Policy Fellowship Story

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“It is through curiosity and looking at opportunities in new ways that we’ve mapped our path” – Michael Dell

A LITTLE BIRD TOLD ME

On the 25th of July, 2017, a friend sent me a direct message on Twitter with the link to the Google Policy Fellowship posted on the Paradigm Initiative‘s website. I was preparing for the first semester examinations in my final year at the University of Ibadan Nigeria at the time and I remember telling him I would check it out after the exams so I could give my all to my application.

My exams came to an end, and I turned my focus to the fellowship application. I went through the requirements and I chose the African Academic Network on Internet Policy as the host organization I would love to work in for two reasons. Firstly, the host organisation is based in Ibadan and I school and live in Ibadan. Secondly, the fellowship’s thematic focus included intellectual property, privacy and security, all areas that interested me. I was working on my research on ‘Intellectual Property Laws in Nigeria and Digital Media Technologies; A Copyright Perspective’ at the time I applied and this fit right in.

THE SELECTION PROCESS

The recruitment process was seamless. I applied online, the host organisation sent me a mail with some forms attached and a date for the interview. I filled out all the forms and got ready for my interview. It was a very wet morning and I felt the usual jitters and fear that accompanies interviews. I was also worried that being in school would factor against me.

I was interviewed by a panel of five and they realised I was very tense. So to make me relax, one of the interviewers asked me why I decided to learn Japanese. Talking about that made me relax a bit. They proceeded to ask me questions on Internet Policy, Internet governance, Net neutrality and copyright amongst other things.

They asked me how I was going to balance school and the fellowship program if I got in and I informed them of my flexible timetable for the second semester and how it allowed me time to work adequately. I left feeling quietly confident about the interview.

A final interview with the Project Director of the Network was conducted between myself and another candidate as we were the top two. I was offered the position which I accepted and I signed my contract on the 3rd of October, 2017 as the Google Policy Fellow at the African Academic Network on Internet Policy.

It was exciting resuming at my host organisation, meeting the members of the organisation and learning how things worked in the organisation. In the beginning, I felt odd because I was the youngest person but every single person in the organisation made me feel very welcome. The management worked with my class timetable and we were able to come up with a suitable work schedule.

LIFE AS A GOOGLE FELLOW

I handled and executed quite a number of tasks like writing op-eds on internet governance and policy issues, organising seminars, managing research grants between researchers and the Network, managing the researchers and members of the Network. I also represented the Network on panel sessions on Privacy issues, created the first ISGPP Privacy policy in preparation for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and I worked on concept notes for seminars. I served as a Project officer in the project unit where I organised the first conference on Data Protection and Privacy.

MY BEST MOMENTS

It is almost impossible to pick just one time that can qualify as a “best moment” during this period but two particular moments stand out for me. First, it has to be the 1st conference African Academic Network on Internet Policy (AANOIP) organised in December 2017. Organising the conference taught me a whole lot of skills from management, to organisation, research writing, logistics, budget-writing and so on. The second was when I was on a panel on Cybersecurity and Trust at the Nigerian Internet Governance Forum (NIGF) in Abuja earlier this year. It was a scary task but also an opportunity to talk about Privacy and data protection in Nigeria and answer people’s questions on privacy issues.

I can’t begin to quantify how useful the fellowship has been for me. This fellowship has introduced me to Technology Policy, Privacy and Security. I have had the opportunity to work with and meet a lot of professionals and individuals while writing on internet policy and governance.

WHAT NEXT?

At the end of the Fellowship, I will be going to the Nigerian Law School for the compulsory one-year legal training. I also plan on writing the International Association of Privacy Professionals professional examination to be a Certified Information Privacy Professional/ Europe (CIPP/E). After law school, I will serve Nigeria and I hope to do that by working for the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) or Ministry of Communication to have some experience in the public policy space of Nigerian Technology.

This has been the best one year of my life and I am truly grateful for this opportunity.

Adenike Adejuwon serves as a Google Policy Fellow with the African Academic Network on Internet Policy, Ibadan.



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