This week my intern cohort had the pleasure of attending an internship conference at the state capitol in Sacramento. It was two days of non-stop meetings, panels, and exploring the capital, starting with a 4:30 AM wake up call on Monday morning for our 7 AM flight out of Burbank. Although this was a frankly exhausting trip, I left feeling empowered, invigorated, and motivated to pursue a possible career in politics (and perhaps at Sacramento itself!)
We met with people from almost every aspect of politics, from lobbyists to legislators to policy analysts, from which I was able to get a variety of perspectives of what it is like working from both the outside and the inside of the capitol building. We were also able to tour the Capitol, and just experiencing the fast-paced environment that seemed to encapsulate the building made me feel energized and excited that I might one day work in such a place.
My most memorable meeting was actually a lunch conversation with Senate fellow Maheen Ahmed. She shared her story of how she came to work at the Capitol, as well as how she stays grounded in an such an environment. Maheen had worked a non-profit previous to working in Sacramento, and decided to make a career change because she felt that, to be an effective advocate, she needed to know how the system actually worked. She admitted that although working in politics can feel like a game that you can get caught up in, it has been an incredible learning experience that will only help her be a better advocate later on for the causes that she believes in. She also emphasized the importance of self care, which not only helps her stay grounded but also to maintain a healthy mental state. As someone who can sometimes be discouraged by the superficialness of politics, and is afraid that if I do pursue a career in it, I will end up losing sight of my initial goals, listening to Maheen made me feel reassured and further compelled to pursue working in this field.
Up until this week, I had a very vague plan of what I was going to do after I finished my undergraduate degree, in which I would take a gap year or two to work and then go to law school. Work where? In what field? I really had no idea, and it terrified me that I seemed to be heading towards something unknown. However, this trip helped me solidify the decision that I do want to work in politics after college, possibly at the Capitol as a fellow, and that this would be an invaluable experience for me, whether or not I actually end up in politics as a career.