Sacramento Semester Program calls for students

The Sacramento Semester Program opened its doors for California State University students to apply for Spring 2014, a unique internship at the state’s capitol.

The program is open for all California State University students within the 23-campus spread. Students within the program plunge into academic study, discussions, seminars and internships with the executive branch, legislative branch, interest groups and lobbyists.

Each student has to work a minimum of 25 hours a week in his or her internship at Sacramento.

Every year the program opens its registration process and accepts students for the spring semester session, which students in the CSU system of any major can apply to. 

“We accept around 30 students each year from the CSU system,” said Michael Wadle, director of the program at Sacramento State. “We also offer scholarships through the scholarship office.”

There are grants and scholarships for students; the Sacramento Semester Program offers 10 scholarships of $4,000 for students who qualify.

Registration for the Spring 2015 session is currently open until Nov. 17. Students who are accepted into the program are notified in early December.

“It’s a way to get into the capitol, maybe not into politics so much, as to one of the entities involved around Sacramento; it presents a tremendous opportunity,” said David McCuan, professor of political science and alumni of the program.

According to McCuan, Sonoma State University has sent people off and on over the years. Not many are sent, but when they do send people they tend to be highly qualified.  

Currently only two students at Sonoma State are applying to the program for the Spring 2015 session. One of which is Hayden Ludwig, a senior and political science major.

“It’s a really interesting program that unfortunately not very many students know of,” said Ludwig. “I encourage anyone who is remotely interested being in Sacramento to apply and attend this program. It’s an excellent way to spend your last semester, especially if you only have a couple of classes left, why not?”

The program consists of four components, which are internships, seminars, guest speakers and the social and recreational components.

Students usually have three different choices when applying for their internship portion of the program. The executive branch and commissions is one choice, which students intern in the office of the governor.

The Legislative branch is another option in which students intern with individual legislators in the state capitol. The last is students can intern with interest groups and lobbyists.

There are alumni from the Sacramento Semester Program throughout the state, like Candace Nafissi, now the education and policy manager for the Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles. Nafissi joined the program from CSU Long Beach in 2006.

“This is such a great opportunity for me with great mentors, I learned so much about being in government,” said Nafissi. “In the political field, half the challenge is getting into the door.”

The Sacramento Semester Program is not the only one of its kind within California and the U.S. There is the Capitol Fellows Program, the federal-state relations fellowship program, and the University of California Washington D.C. program, or better known as UCDC.

Many students who enter the program find careers through the internships they were in, like Mandi Strella, who was a part of the program in Spring 2005.

“I interned in a smaller office, that wound up wanting to hire me after I graduated,” said Strella, principal consultant to the office of Assembly Member Cristina Garcia. “As a staffer I often make sure to recruit interns from the Sac Semester program. The program has a reputation for sending interns that are serious about their time in the building.”

For more information, contact McCuan at (707) 664-3309 in the political science department of Sonoma State, or Wadle, the director of the Sacramento Semester Program at (916) 278-4012.