I was born and raised in the rural telecommunications industry. My father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great uncle have all served as President of Walnut Telephone Company in Walnut Iowa, since the company's inception in 1915. As a child, my grandfather Clifford Heyne encouraged me to set aspirational education goals for myself, and he encouraged me to find a calling in any area of telecommunications. He was a fundamental source of support and motivation for me when I was young, and I was always infatuated with watching him work at Walnut Telephone Company and listening to him talk about the business with my father.
During my summer vacations home from boarding school (Shattuck-St. Mary's in Faribault, MN), I worked at Walnut Telephone on a wide range of jobs. I learned how to splice cable, and I restored antique telephones for a (finally completed) company museum. I learned how to handle front office customer support as well as back office diagnostics and troubleshooting with the switching equipment. I assisted the General Manager on many of his daily responsibilities, and I also got a nice dose of manual labor by pulling out old pedestals all over the rural service area. During these years, 1996-2000, the company was undergoing a significant transformation to deploy broadband DSL to all customers, so it was a very exciting time for me to be on the front lines.
Flash forward to 2000, and I was a college student at the George Washington University in Washington DC. In the summer of 2001, I became an intern at the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association in their Education Department, where I remained until 2005. During my internship at NTCA, I learned a great deal about how the rural telecommunications industry works, and I contributed to the Education Department by preparing materials for conferences, writing presentations, and developing online courses for the department. My favorite project from my job at NTCA was participating in the group that developed the annual FRS Youth Wireless Survey.
Meanwhile, in 2003 I graduated from GWU a semester early with a B.A. in History and a minor in Philosophy, and immediately got a jump start on graduate school--in the well-known and highly-respected Telecommunications Master's program at GWU. I comfortably and happily settled in DC, assuming I would be here for the long term, when the GWU Telecommunications program was abruptly canceled. I had only completed about 12 credits, so it was a very frustrating experience for me--a frustrating experience that took me awhile to overcome successfully.
I spent about 6 months in 2005 working as a sales associate for T-Mobile while I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do in terms of going back to school. My experience at T-Mobile was not all that wonderful, but I continually find myself referring to random things I learned while I worked there. I really did get a great look at the wireless industry in action, and I learned a lot about customer preferences for wireless handsets, plans and carriers. It ended up being a good experience in the sense that it was definitely a "learning experience," and I got to participate in an area of the telecommunications industry that was outside my usual focus.
Eventually, by 2007, I had narrowed down my next educational move to either law school or finding another telecom program. Ultimately, I was faced with a tough decision between two schools: University of Denver School of Law for a Master's in Legal Administration, or University of Colorado's Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program (considered by many to be the best telecom graduate school program in the country). Well, thanks to the awesome power of the Internet, I did not have to choose! Both universities offered programs online identical to the "real life" classes, so I decided to just go for it and do two graduate degrees at the same time. I briefly considered moving to Colorado, but I just love DC too much and the online programs were working out fantastically for me.
I completed my M.S. in Legal Administration coursework in the Spring of 2010, but I still had one final thing to do before I was officially a graduate: a legal internship. I immediately thought of one firm that is very close to my house and does excellent work in the rural telecommunications industry: Blooston, Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast LLP. My father has praised their good work for years and he often suggested that I should contact them about jobs. They welcomed me with open arms and gave me a variety of interesting projects in firm administration, client relations, client projects, and telecom policy research. My favorite part of the job was doing research for comments in several of the USF proceedings from this past summer. I also really enjoyed writing some articles for the firm's weekly newsletter, which actually inspired me to find a way to keep writing on telecom news and issues once the internship was complete. This internship was a wonderful experience for me and I met some really terrific people at this firm as well, who all encouraged me to start this blog and have been really supportive all along.
So that brings us up to present time, I have completed all of my courses for my M.S. in Telecommunications! However, I have a massive thesis project to take on, which is expected to take at least 9 months. I will be writing on my favorite topic, USF Reform, but I am tentatively waiting until the FCC's final rules are released--hopefully this fall. I am currently a writer for JSI Capital Advisors, where I write on USF and telecom regulatory topics--check it out! My goal for the near future (after I graduate) is to find a wonderful job, preferably in DC, in either telecom consulting or lobbying. My long term goal is to start my own telecommunications consulting firm.
Some additional personal things about me:
- I love fashion! I am very partial to Chanel, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, and Maison Martin Margiela.
- I do Pilates and Yoga as often as I can.
- I have a pit bull named Isabelle.
- I am a raging advocate for organic, non-GMO, natural and locally grown food; and I actively support farmer's markets in my community.
- I love reading about telecommunications, but my favorite thing to read is history--basically any kind of history, but German history in particular (lately I have been really interested in the Byzantine Empire, China and the Spanish Inquisition).
- My favorite sport is Formula 1and I hope to do the European Circuit one day.