Internship Choice: Your Most Important Summer Decision

“This is your bill, I need you to become an expert on Medi-Cal services for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the next two weeks.” Having no previous experience in the health insurance industry, ASD, or mental health in general, it has been a challenge understanding all of the different components of applicable state and federal healthcare insurance law, regulations regarding what services can and cannot be provided through the different Medi-Cal providers, and assessing the cost and scope of expanding the program to those currently not served, all while working with our bill sponsor to navigate the legislative process as we seek to push our bill through the many hurdles of our California legislature. This is just one of the most stimulating and nerve-wrecking assignments I have been given since beginning my internship three weeks ago in the Office of Assemblymember Ridley-Thomas, representing the 54th District.

In the short time that I have been here, I have learned and done so much. My office has entrusted me with everything from tracking votes to staffing legislative meetings with constituents to working on my own bills. They have taught me the inner workings of the legislative processes, taken me around the capitol to various offices and introduced me to people, and have been wonderful in inviting me to the myriad of events, press conferences, and hearings that hallmark a life in the political sphere. The most important lesson I’ve learned in my time here is that choosing the right office is paramount to a productive and valuable internship experience. Before accepting my internship with Assemblymember Ridley-Thomas, I danced with a few other prospective internship opportunities that sounded impressive on paper. Nonetheless, when I met the AD 54 team they were welcoming, genuinely interested in my development, and offered me a place as a core member of their office. That day, I knew this was the place for me and it has turned out even better than I expected.

Laura Jessica Douglas is a UC Berkeley senior studying political science and global poverty & practice. She is interning in the office of Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas as a Cal-in-Sacramento Fellow.