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Capital Fellows internships give inside look

By | February 08, 2013 | News
The 2011-2012 Judicial Capital Fellows stand at the state capitol.  The people involved in the program are postgraduate or graduate students. Some individuals are taking time from a career to learn about public policy and service.  Photo courtesy of Capital Fellows Program/ The Collegian

The 2011-2012 Judicial Capital Fellows stand at the state capitol. The people involved in the program are postgraduate or graduate students. Some individuals are taking time from a career to learn about public policy and service.
Photo courtesy of Capital Fellows Program/ The Collegian

Internships are often seen as the key to job placement after graduation, but for those interested in politics or government, the Capital Fellows Program is much more than that.
The Center for California Studies at Sacramento State offers four distinct fellowship opportunities. Together they are known as the Capital Fellows Programs.

The programs offer graduate, post- graduate and midcareer individuals the opportunity to engage in public service and prepare for future careers while actively contributing to the development and implementation of public policy in California.

The four fellowships offer 64 participants a chance to participate directly in an assembly, senate, executive or judicial administration office.

Sean Kiernan, Associated Students Inc. vice president for external affairs and California Democratic Party delegate, explained his interest in the Capital Fellowship Programs.

“I believe it is an outstanding opportunity to engage in public service, not only learn about but experience the legislative process and make great relationships to help mount a career,” he said.
He would accept an offer from any of the four programs, he said, but overall favors the Executive Fellowship because he is most interested in the policies and proposals of the Brown administration.

For three consecutive years, Vault.com, a career management and job search site, has ranked the Capital Fellows Program as one of the top 10 U.S. internships, making it a highly competitive program with national acknowledgement.

Fellows in each of the four programs work full-time and are typically given assignments with a significant amount of responsibility and challenges.

Jessica LaMaack, a 2012-2013 California Senate fellow, discussed the importance of her work as a fellow in Sacramento.

“Sacramento is the hub for what happens in the state and what happens in the nation, being able to be there and affect policy and try to make life better for all Californians is something I’m so glad to be a part of,” she said.

Fellows work for 10 to 11 months, receive health benefits and a monthly stipend of $1972. In addition, fellows also receive graduate units through Sacramento State’s Government Department or Public Policy and Administration Program.

Thomas Holyoke, a Fresno State political science professor, says the program offers practical experience that one cannot gain in a classroom.

“I can talk forever about interest group lobbying, but no student would fully understand what lobbying is until they have met interest group lobbyists” Holyoke said, “In other words, everything we talk about in the classroom becomes real when working in internships like Capital Fellows Program.”

Program alumni have become members of the U.S. Congress and the State Legislature, state and local government officials, corporate executives, community leaders, a deputy director of the Peace Corps and a Justice of the California Supreme Court.

The deadline to apply for the 2013-2014 Fellowships is Feb. 11. There are no preferred majors, however, applicants must be 20 years of age and obtain a bachelor’s degree by Sep. 1.

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