Aggies in the Capitals

Photo of U.S. capitol building seen from the National Mall

Around the Capital Beltway and across the Yolo Causeway, students get real-world experience through wide-ranging internships.

Each quarter, UC Davis students make their way to the state’s and nation’s capitals with a mix of practical and lofty goals: get resume-building experience and develop the know-how to change the world.

Representing a swath of academic majors, Aggies at UC centers in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., take courses and participate in an array of internships — both inside and outside government. Many describe their experiences as life-changing.

Photo of student on patio of state capitol
Olivia Wardlaw
Photo by Greg Anderson/UC Davis

Intern takes on California Assembly

In an article for online magazine Her Campus, Olivia Wardlaw (B.A., English and political science, ’18), said applying for the internship program at the UC Center Sacramento was the best decision she ever made in her time at UC Davis.

Administered by UC Davis, the UC Center Sacramento enrolls students from eight UC campuses — with Aggies from the College of Letters and Science as the most represented. UC Davis students make up roughly half the interns each quarter, said Ken Barnes, assistant director of the campus Internship and Career Center.

As part of her internship with the Secretary of State’s office, Wardlaw worked with the first wave of counties participating in the Voter’s Choice Act, which aims to make voting more convenient with more mail-in, early in-person, and ballot drop-off options.The experience aligned with her plans for a career in public policy, working in the press, legislative affairs at a political office, or working on election and educational reform issues.

“Eleven of my nieces and nephews were in the foster system. I have seen how broken our foster system is. I want to do everything I can to help the kids that have been overlooked in their life, and the way I am going to do that is by becoming a child advocate lawyer.”

– Ruby Koetsier, political science, intern in the office of Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer
(D-Los Angeles)

Read about other state capital interns on the UC Center Sacramento's Facebook page.

Young alumna set sights on policy in D.C.

Photo of UC Davis student in front of U.S. capitol building
Allyson Nicole Camino

Allyson Nicole Camino (B.A., political science–public service and Chinese, ’17) served as a political affairs program assistant for the US-Asia Institute when she interned with UC Washington Center (UCDC) in 2017.

“As someone who was often soft-spoken and inactive in the political space, this program instilled in me a deeper understanding of public service,” said Camino. “By the end of the UCDC fall quarter, I came back to California as a completely different person with renewed strength: inspired, empowered, and actively willing to take on challenges to develop professionally and to be an outspoken voice for communities I care for.”

In Washington, Camino worked with the US-Asia Institute (USAI), a private United Nations-associated nonprofit dedicated to building and strengthening ties between the United States and Asia.

“Walking by the Library of Congress, the U.S. Capitol Building, and the Supreme Court every day and night was humbling and made me feel like I was contributing to something much larger than myself.”

Camino is working now to gain legal and public policy experience in immigrant rights advocacy and to encourage her local Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community to be civically engaged. She hopes to pursue a joint law and public policy master’s degree, and would like to one day move back to Washington to work with immigrant rights and AAPI advocacy groups.

“My time in D.C. helped me to feel secure in my goal of working for an international advocacy organization to influence U.S. foreign policy and promote human rights around the world. There was no better place for me than D.C. to put the skills I learned at UC Davis to work.”

– Megan Pynes (B.A., international relations and Spanish, ’18),
2017 intern at The Latin America Working Group

Read about other students' UCDC experiences

— Kathleen Holder, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science, and Maddy Shiber (B.A., communication ’18)