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Sacramento Semester Program in the Virtual Space

For a year now, students and faculty have learned to adjust to a virtual learning environment and all of the challenges that it brings. When internship programs ground to a halt in the spring of 2020, many students wondered when the opportunity to explore careers and gain much-needed experience would return. Meanwhile, internship hosts around the capital worked hard to envision a virtual space to provide these opportunities.

This spring semester, our Sacramento Semester Program has been able to flourish despite the many obstacles of being in a remote environment. We have 28 students representing 11 California State University campuses that took the bold step of reimagining their internship possibilities. Thanks to some truly amazing hosts in the California state Assembly and Senate, Sacramento City Council and Mayor’s Office, and the California Department of Justice, our students are getting to see perspectives unlike those seen by previous cohorts. Students are getting to see how our local and state leaders tackle governing and service in the middle of a global public health crisis.

For most students, parts of the internship experience have looked somewhat similar to what is typical for our Sacramento Semester Program. Students are doing research, staffing bills, attending hearings and meetings, connecting with constituents, and building their skills. Challenges that face their offices’ constituents dominate the days of some students, who are working hard to address concerns of a California public grappling with the uncertainties of the past year.

Whatever the day brings for our amazing Sacramento Semester interns, they are learning how to be leaders in our community. The way they have taken on this challenge speaks to the empathy, resilience, and persistence of California State University students.

“I've learned how to network with those I've met along the way, in a capacity that I would argue takes more intentionality than would have come had I experienced this all in a face-to-face environment,” said Sacramento State student Justin Gregg. “Being remote has forced me to decide what exactly I want and to make it happen on my own terms”.

By Jamie Jackson, Director, Sacramento Semester Program and Professor, Department of Political Science