What an incredible month I have experienced here at the State Capitol! Senator Vidak’s staff is absolutely amazing. With so many offices at the Capitol to choose from it was overwhelming trying to decide where I would best fit. Coming and interning for Senator Vidak was the greatest decision; after just four weeks my office feels like home. The Vidak Staff took me under their wing and helped make my transition into their office a smooth one. Having only been here a few weeks I have learned so much from the staff; my questions are always answered and they are constantly reaching out to show and teach me new things.
On my first day as an intern for the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), the first thing I noticed was the eye catching sculpture in front of the building. The sculpture is made up of four giant slabs of stone arranged in a circle with a poem inscribed on the inside faces. After working with the Agency for a few weeks, it dawned on me that the sculpture was a reflection of CalEPA itself and its relationship with the California government.
The slim ribbon of dirt I’d been following for a quarter mile skirted the edge of a bluff, ducked under a low oak and then dipped out of sight as it followed a precipitous line down the edge of a dredge tailing. I made my way down the steep slope of rocks that had been excavated from the American River’s bed during the California Gold Rush, listening for periodic beeps from my GPS to ensure that I was indeed recording and updating my location as I traveled. At the base of the tailing, the trail wound its way around a fallen cottonwood and finally disappeared into blackberry bushes and poison oak. I turned around and clambered back up the rock pile, GPS and satellite photos in hand. At the top of the pile, I stopped to record the trail’s width and level of degradation.
As an intern at the Sacramento County Department of Regional Parks, I’ve been tasked with developing and implementing a system of mapping and categorizing informal social trails in the American River Parkway. Continue reading
There’s a ton to reflect on even though my internship with the Superintendent’s Office at the Alameda County of Education started less than two weeks ago. I have already met dozens of people and begun to sink my teeth into the projects that I will work on this summer. So far I feel a sense of calm urgency, and I think it’s in part fueled by my daily doses of morning coffee. Or it might be stoked by the constant planning, meetings, and conference calls that I keep seeing in motion around the office. There are many Post-It notes and tasks waiting to be accomplished and checked off the County’s to-do list. Since it is summer, that means budgets are being turned in for final review, including the budgets of the 18 school districts in Alameda County, the County Office of Education, and the State of California. Once budgets are finalized, education dollars will be allocated according to strategic plans laid out in each district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) to take care of students’ needs, especially for those most vulnerable. But as I’ve seen in federal government, education funding is tight in state and local governments as well. Despite there being more funding this year, politics still plays a huge role in ensuring the highest-need priorities are met. I am eager to witness how this plays out on the local level–where school boards and district staff will be able to make last-minute adjustments before everything is all set in stone.
“This is your bill, I need you to become an expert on Medi-Cal services for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the next two weeks.” Having no previous experience in the health insurance industry, ASD, or mental health in general, it has been a challenge understanding all of the different components of applicable state and federal healthcare insurance law, regulations regarding what services can and cannot be provided through the different Medi-Cal providers, and assessing the cost and scope of expanding the program to those currently not served, all while working with our bill sponsor to navigate the legislative process as we seek to push our bill through the many hurdles of our California legislature. This is just one of the most stimulating and nerve-wrecking assignments I have been given since beginning my internship three weeks ago in the Office of Assemblymember Ridley-Thomas, representing the 54th District.
A week and a half has passed thus far during my internship with Assemblymember Kansen Chu in the State Capitol, and I have already realized that I’m in the right field. Like many college students, I go back and forth a lot trying to find my calling, and before this internship, I had major doubts about whether politics was the right place for me. However, the Fellows in this program and all of those who I have met in the Capitol have changed my mind. I am naturally an introvert, which is what made me have doubts in the first place, because at times it seems like there is no place for introverts in the networking-heavy and debate-heavy political world. Being a part of Cal-in-Sac gave me an instant community that I had already known for six months before I came here, and experiencing our state’s capital with my fellow fellows, whether it is at Sacramento Pride or just eating a delicious free lunch in front of the Capitol makes it so much easier to overcome whatever I am nervous about.
I’ve been lucky enough at my internship this summer at the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) to be assigned projects I find both incredibly stimulating and self-directed. However, beyond the matters of policy and politics I get to spend my workdays researching and deliberating over, I am also responsible for a number of more structured and routine tasks. For example, each morning I review and organize paperwork on projects going through the necessary process to meet the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Working with a daily stack of various project proposals from across the state is not nearly as individually rewarding, at least in an immediate sense, as directing my own project. Nonetheless, through my assuming this role at OPR since the start of this week, I have learned more about California planning and development than I have from any of my other projects thus far. Continue reading