Student Spotlight: Zack Weinberg
Name: Zack Weinberg
Year: Senior, Class of 2018
Major: Cognitive Science, Double Minor in Public Policy & Computer Science
Hometown: Potomac, MD
Service Placement: Intern at San Francisco Department of Technology
Favorite Quote: “It’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.” Rachel Dawes, Batman Begins
What sparked your interest in public service?
I’ve always known that the number one thing I wanted from my career was to know that I was having a positive impact on someone else, and that’s really what public service is all about. If I can make just one person’s life just a little bit better, to me that’s a good day’s work. I feel that public service is the best way to maximize both the breadth and depth of the impact I can have in one day.
The best part of the local government fellowship to me is the variety of available experiences you can have in it. While there’s no doubt that if you want to work in the mayor’s office you can do that through this program, you can also get the chance to work in agencies on the policy implementation that really drives the positive influence government, and particularly local government, can have in the local communities. I got to work in the San Francisco Department of Technology (affectionately referred to as DT) on the issues that I really did care about, which was fantastic because until then I didn’t even know San Francisco had a department devoted specifically to technology issues!
What was the most significant aspect of your internship experience?
For me it was easily getting to see the most pressing issues at the local level. In terms of technology, the biggest policy issue in the news recently is probably net neutrality, an existing policy that critically defines how we currently conceive of the Internet. But while that plays out nationally, there are so many other issues that can have real and immediate impact for people, including the Digital Divide (who does/does not have access to high speed internet at home), the Internet of Things, and data security and privacy issues. These issues may not garner national attention, but when you work on them day in and day out, you realize the possible effect these issues can have in our day to day lives.
What resources do students need to take advantage of here in Cal?
Don’t forget that other students are looking for opportunities too, and might have some good ones for you to take a look at. I found out about Matsui’s Local Government Fellowship from a friend who is a Public Health major and briefly considered Cal-in-Sacramento. You never know who might know of additional opportunities and resources that may be helpful for you, so never be afraid to reach out! (And, by the same token, always be willing to help out someone else who asks!)
What does public service mean to you?
Public service means working to positively influence as many lives as possible. To serve the public is to actively seek to make decisions that are most likely to lead to the best outcomes for the most number of people. At the end of the day, it’s all about impact and spending your day trying to brighten someone else’s.