Three questions with Natascha Schoepl about her CIVICA-Google Policy Summer Institute experience

The MPP alumna tells us what she took away from the digital policy internship for first-generation students.

In the summer of 2023, 8 students from universities across the CIVICA alliance took part in the Policy Summer Institute (PSI), a joint programme between the university network and Google that is now in its second year. For the paid internships, first-generation CIVICA students focused on digital policy and were based in European capital cities, where such policies are generally made.

Natascha Schoepl, who has just graduated from the Hertie School with a Master of Public Policy (MPP), worked in Berlin’s Google offices over the summer. Schoepl was also part of the Hertie School’s 2022/2023 First-Generation Mentoring Programme.

How did you benefit from connecting with your peers across the CIVICA alliance during the internship?

Connecting with my peers across the CIVICA alliance was an enriching and transformative experience. I learned a lot from their diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Not only that, engaging in discussions, collaborative projects and shared experiences allowed me to gain insight into various aspects of policy and the technology sector.

The Policy Challenge, in which we presented innovative solutions to various policy challenges, also fostered collaborative teamwork and provided a platform to apply our collective skills to real-world challenges, contributing to a sense of unity and shared purpose. Beyond the formal aspects of the programme, informal interactions with my peers offered a chance to forge lasting connections and friendships across different countries.

How did you experience the CIVICA-Google Policy Summer Institute? 

Participating in the CIVICA-Google Policy Summer Institute was an incredibly rewarding journey that has deepened my understanding of digital policy. The immersive experience of spending time at the Google Office in Berlin was eye-opening: it gave me firsthand exposure to the intersection of technology, government affairs and digital policy. Engaging with professionals and mentors from both Google and Elephantlogic, the partnering strategy consulting firm, enhanced my comprehension of the challenges and opportunities posed by the digital landscape in Germany.

Throughout the internship, I analysed different issues and policies that the German government was currently working on, including the implications of AI for copyright, competition and key stakeholders. I also gained insight into the balance between innovation, regulation and societal impact. Discussions with peers, mentors and professionals highlighted the urgency of addressing issues such as data privacy, AI ethics and digital inclusion, especially with the launch of Google’s own AI model, Bard. Witnessing these matters firsthand during the internship exposed me to the real-world implications of policy decisions on technology companies, users and society as a whole.

The CIVICA-Google Policy Summer Institute broadened my perspective on digital policy, transforming it from theoretical concepts to tangible, real-world challenges that require holistic and adaptive approaches. Thank you Google, Elephantlogic, CIVICA and Hertie School, for this incredible opportunity!

How does this internship connect to your future career plans? 

The CIVICA-Google Policy Summer Institute has provided me with an immersive and hands-on experience in policy and technology and has shown me new potential career paths I could pursue, especially in government affairs.

This experience has driven me to potentially pursue a career focused on bridging the gap between innovation and responsible policy implementation. Moreover, it has equipped me with the skills, insights and networks necessary to navigate the complex landscape of policy development and government affairs within the tech sector. The mentorship and its exposure to current policy discussions have been very compelling.