From this past June until December, I took a much-needed pause from side projects and advocacy work to go back to school. Sort of.
After a tough application process and weeks of tense waiting, I was selected for the first run of the Internet Society’s Mid-Career Fellowship programme, which was seven months of intense cross-disciplinary learning on leadership in internet governance, taught by eight institutions in six countries.
While I’m not one to brag, I was the only person from the UK, and only one of 15 people selected in the world, for the first intake.
Today I got my certificate (see above), which is kind of cute at my age, and also reminds me that I do not own a working printer and I keep meaning to sort that.
The course has left me with a notebook full of lecture notes, references, ideas, and supporting frameworks which use ISOC’s internet impact assessment toolkit as the starting point, rather than the destination. I’m looking forward to putting all those resources into practice, and to practicing the new leadership skills I was given too (assuming I ever get a job again).
But I’m always honest, and I’ll be so here. The MCF was the first run of the course, meaning it was a pilot programme. And…it showed. While years of organising local meetups and conferences left me with a very patient understanding for how large projects are organised, in this case, there were too many basic issues with the course’s planning and structure which could be explained away as the growing pains of a new initiative. So I’m hoping that the ISOC take on board the constructive feedback I left them before rolling out the programme again, or before I can, in good conscience, recommend it to others. For now, sadly, I cannot.
For the positive parts of the learning experience that I did have, I’d like to especially thank Dr Laura DeNardis of Georgetown U, who helped me to weave my post-pandemic policy brain back together, and the instructors at the Oxford Internet Institute, who deserved more time than they were allotted. I’d also like to thank Robin Wilton at ISOC for his steady mentorship.
Finally, a piece of cautionary advice: if you spend a fortnight writing a 5,000 word programme application where you specifically discuss how you want the educational experience to help you support your work with your employer, and you’re one of only 15 people on the planet accepted to the programme, and your employer’s sole response is “well jel”, and that is the only thing they have to say about it: you’re already on the way out of the (remote) door. And that is one hell of a way to find out.