“Why do you want to work in government? It’s too bureaucratic, it’s inefficient, and you could be working somewhere else for more money.” This sentiment is not a new one. I have heard this from countless family members, friends, and even teachers/mentors. My biggest issue with that question and cynical perspective is not that people always present it, it is at times I have found myself almost believing it. Almost. Although I have tentatively responded to this question before, after seeing government in action this summer, I have found my definitive answer.
Posted by Former Cal-in-Sacramento Fellow Jackie Caro-Sena
My involvement in Cal-in-Sac during the 2014 cycle has dramatically opened doors for me in ways I could not have imagined. Aside from gaining mentorship and networks in Sacramento, I was able to get a letter of recommendation from my former supervisor, the principal consultant for the California Latino Legislative Caucus, to be a participant in the UCDC Program in my final semester as an undergrad in the Spring of 2015.
I came in to the Cal-in-Sac program with a mission; I had the desire to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life. Simple right? After only 1 year as a Bear so far, I’m already entering my senior year. Naturally, I was beginning to get that “I have no skills or applicable knowledge” type of feeling, and freaking out about what was actually in store for me as a political science major with a public policy minor. My intention was to decide whether I would be spending most of my free time next year studying for law school, or begin preparing for graduate school.
While finding a definite answer is never easy, what I did discover is that my options are not as black and white as I thought, and that my future is not as bleak as I expected. One of the benefits of attending a University like Berkeley is being constantly bombarded by amazing opportunities, which could potentially give you a future. Cal-in-Sac has definitely been one of those opportunities.
Away from the Capitol, it’s difficult to understand the necessity of such a plethora of bills. It seems as though California has an incredible amount of law and regulation. So why pass so much legislation each week?
On Monday, June 29, I found the answer. Like almost every Monday afternoon, I attended the Assembly Committee on Transportation. When SB 344 came before the Committee, I watched as two grief stricken parents testified to the committee about how their son, Daniel, was tragically killed when a truck driver lost control of his vehicle and hit Daniel’s car. The bill would require an individual to complete a course of instruction through the DMV in order to obtain a commercial driver’s license. Daniel’s parents, and the author, Senator Monning, felt as though increased training would help prevent future tragedies. Continue reading
First one in, last one out. This was the key to success that my mentors promised would separate me from the ranks of the average employee. Although this has definitely held true for me throughout my career, I must acknowledge that it hasn’t been hard work alone that has propelled me through a phenomenal community college career and into a full ride at the world’s top public institution for higher learning.
It’s interesting that in talking to established folks here in the capitol, “work hard” is no longer the token advice given to me. Working hard is a given, like breathing. Now, time and again the new golden piece of advice is “meet more people.” And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. Continue reading
As my internship nears its end, I find myself reflecting more and more about what I’ve learned during my time here. What I will remember the most is the real-world experience I gained, which made me want to come back for more, maybe even as an Assembly or Senate fellow. Whether it was meeting with committee staff or participating in staff briefings with my Member, I got a glimpse of what life after college could be like, and I really liked the idea of it. For example, I was able to sit in on a staff briefing for the Assembly Labor Committee for a hearing that was going to deal with a few controversial bills including SB 3, which would increase the minimum wage. I then relayed the committee chair’s recommendations to my Chief of Staff and Member. I always knew I had an interest in labor issues, but actually sitting in on the meetings affirmed my interest in a way that nothing else could. I even got to put a bill across the desk. It was an Assembly Joint Resolution that called upon Congress to provide 15,000 visas to highly skilled South Korean nationals. I have also gotten to do bill research that I hope will turn into actual legislation sometime after I leave, such as a tax credit for senior citizen renters.
As a Cal-in-Sacramento intern this summer, I have experienced my first taste of the life of a working professional under the structure of “the 9 to 5,” a phrase that turns casual the weight of a forty-hour workweek. To many this experience is rather unremarkable, but to a college student who is used to part-time employment with flexible hours – it is an entirely new world.
I spend a majority of my day in one place – as opposed to the constantly changing stimuli provided in the past by summer days. This means that from the moment my foot reaches my doorstep when I arrive home from work, I take on a new race – one against time to see how much I can squeeze out of the space between the end of the work day and the end of the night. Continue reading