To Public Policy, or Not to Public Policy

I came in to the Cal-in-Sac program with a mission; I had the desire to figure out what I was going to do with the rest of my life. Simple right? After only 1 year as a Bear so far, I’m already entering my senior year. Naturally, I was beginning to get that “I have no skills or applicable knowledge” type of feeling, and freaking out about what was actually in store for me as a political science major with a public policy minor. My intention was to decide whether I would be spending most of my free time next year studying for law school, or begin preparing for graduate school.

While finding a definite answer is never easy, what I did discover is that my options are not as black and white as I thought, and that my future is not as bleak as I expected. One of the benefits of attending a University like Berkeley is being constantly bombarded by amazing opportunities, which could potentially give you a future. Cal-in-Sac has definitely been one of those opportunities.

One thing I learned is that I really enjoy public service. I enjoy waking up, putting on a tie, and walking into this amazing capitol building every morning. I enjoy getting to work with people I admire, and being mentored by accomplished professional individuals. Primarily, what I enjoy most is (honestly completely cheesy), being able to make a difference. I was fortunate enough to intern for Senator Lara, a senator with whom I share many beliefs, and whose policies have changed my life and the life of people around me. To see such sweeping change positively impacting the citizens of one of the largest states in the nation, and strongest economies in the world, coming from a single building, is incredible.

I still enjoy law, I have made time to study for my LSATS this summer, and I still plan on applying to law school, but I feel like I have a lot more options now. I have not yet interned for a law firm, but plan to in order to make a full decision.

Being in the capitol has also opened my eyes to a handful of other opportunities, which I will be considering after Berkeley. I will be applying to fellowships here at the capitol as well as around the nation. I will be applying for to the Capital Fellows Program, and hopefully PPIA and CORO. I am also considering applying to joint degree programs where I can work on my JD and my Masters in Public Policy at the same time. I enjoy knowledge, and enjoy being able to help people with that knowledge, and I’m not ready to set my future in a rut when there are still so many different roads to be discovered.

This experience was fun and adventurous, I made friends, mentors, and established a network of incredibly bright people, but most importantly I accomplished my goals and gained incredible opportunities. I can say, for the first time, and hopefully not my last, that I am more excited than frightened for my future. Thank you Cal-in-Sac, fellow interns, and everyone I met on this journey. I will miss this summer.

Robert Nuñez is a UC Berkeley senior studying political science and media studies. He is interning in the office of Senator Ricardo Lara as a Cal-in-Sacramento Fellow.