Editor’s Note: Ignacio Torres participated in this summer’s University of California Center Sacramento Journalism program. This is his personal experience during this summer.
This last Wednesday marked the end of the University of California Center Sacramento (UCCS) summer program in Sacramento. No, this is not a typo, the UCCS program is different from the UCDC program. Haven’t heard of it? It’s OK, not many people have.
I got the opportunity this summer to participate in the UCCS Journalism Public Policy program along with 14 other students from across California, representing all the UC schools. The number of journalism-focused internships and courses are limited at UC Davis, if not the UC system itself, and this program allowed me to learn more about my interests (and majors) of Spanish and communication.
UCCS academic programs gives undergraduate and graduate students the chance to work closely with the California State Capitol community by living and interning in Sacramento.
Because students are investing a summer or quarter in the program, the program provides enough units to make up what they would miss. A series of UC professors instruct the students on issues that are relevant with what is being dealt with at the State Capitol. Seminars can also be taken for credit and include guest speakers such as lobbyist, legislatures, economists, and journalists.
The public policy program, which consisted of roughly 40 students this summer, requires a 16 to 25 page policy term paper on any topic of the students‘ choice.
For Marissa Fresquez, a summer participant and junior at UC Davis, interning for the Planning and Conservation League made writing her term paper easier than she thought, she said.
“I wrote my term paper on the difference between drinking tap water vs. drinking bottled water,” said Fresquez. “I was able to get good tips and information from my internship supervisor which made it easier for me to write my policy paper.”
Under the supervision of capitol reporters and guidance from UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, a group of 15 UC students, including myself, had the opportunity to be part of the Sacramento press for the entire summer.
For those in the journalism track, our summer began with a two week boot camp where we had assignments to report on issues that were going on inside the capitol, took journalism ethics training, met former and current news editors and reporters and of course wrote every day, and all day, in order to improve our writing skills.
After our boot camp, us journalism folk were placed into internships with the help of our professors and directors. Looking at our assignments throughout the two-week intensive training, they were able to place us into newspapers and radio internships. I interned at La Opinión, a Spanish-speaking newspaper based in Southern California, where I wrote daily stories in Spanish.
“What makes the UCCS program slightly different than the UCDC program, besides the location, is how the center finds internships for the students. Where in the UCDC program the student has to search for their own internship,” said Joaquin Feliciano, UCCS Education and Internship Director.
A few of the publications that the students represented and interned for were the San Francisco Chronicle, Ventura County Star, KQED (NPR) radio, and my internship at La Opinión. Through these radio and newspaper publications, we were all able to publish articles on a weekly if not daily basis, which in college terms means, ‘It looks great on your resume and you have published writing samples for graduate school.‘
This summer students had the opportunity to intern in locations like the Governor‘s Communication Office and the California Medical Association with the public policy track.
For Montae Langston, a UCLA senior who has been in both the UCCS and UCDC programs, interning at the Attorney General Offices in the General Victim Services Unit was a different experience than what he had in DC.
“In Sacramento there is a different culture than in DC, you have a more personal connection with your internship,” said Langston. “In Sacramento you know a lot more about the state’s politics while in DC everything is done in a national level which could be more hectic.”
Having the opportunity to attend the governor’s press conferences, interview legislators and simply seeing the daily protestors out on the capitol steps, was an experience worth sacrificing a summer.
Sacramento may be a car ride away, but the reality is, Sacramento has a life of its own. If you do have the opportunity to live in Sacramento I recommend it. But if you have a continuing lease, I would commute. The majority of the students that participate in the program are from UC Davis, so carpooling can make the parking and gas less expensive.
Lastly, you will need professional clothing. You never know if you might get a job offer from your internship provider or simply will need the professional clothing for an interview later. So as Feliciano likes to say “you are making an investment on your future.”
If you are interested on either the Policy or Journalism program contact A.G. Block at (916) 445-7300 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is available about UCCS at http://uccs.universityofcalifornia.edu/
IGNANCIO TORRES can be reached at email@example.com.