Goodbye, My LA Friends.
Sorry for the melodramatic title, but it’s one of the first things I want tell you all. This isn’t to say I won’t see you at some point down the road, but it does mean that I won’t be in LA for much longer. If you have questions, dw, I have an FAQ at the end, but I’m saying all of this because…
I’m super happy to say last quarter I was accepted into the UC Center for American Politics and Public Policy Program (CAPPP) for the 2018 spring quarter! The program is based in Washington DC, the home of the biggest orange (maybe ever)/US Capital, and requires participants to: pursue their own research topic, take policy/politics related courses, and hold an internship for the duration of the program.
Personally, I will be doing research on federal financing of public transportation to encourage higher ridership. I still haven’t selected the courses I’ll be taking (but I’m sure they’ll be cool). And after 3 months of searching and applying, I have been fortunate enough to be given an internship with the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the public policy research arm created by Congress for expert opinions on policy matters.
To say I’m excited about this is a serious understatement. I’m still trying to get over all of the excitement of being able to do work in an area I’m interested in (public finance/transporation), but the level of difficulty it is for most applicants to get an internship with the CRS honestly has not hit me yet. CRS usually only takes graduate students with a very specific field of expertise and even the CAPPP program coordinator at UCLA told me that in her 12 years of running this program only a handful of students have ever gotten an offer.
This opportunity means a lot to me because I believe to have a reasoned discussion, all sides of the issues that we face need to be grounded in facts that all sides agree on. With people screaming “fake news” at every mention of an idea/story that disagrees with their worldview, I think now is more important than ever to be in research for public policy.
It’s midterm season right now and my life is just completely dominated by projects, research, my job, and this freaking AWS hacker (maybe another post about this in the future…), so to get this news at this moment is really emotional for me. I’m honestly still shaking from the enormity of this opportunity and I cannot overstate this but I feel extremely fortunate and privileged to be in this position.
- Will you walk for graduation spring quarter???
Yuppp. I’ll be back in LA a week before graduation :)
- Why didn’t you tell me sooner? :(
I didn’t want to tell everybody until I’ve confirmed that I will have an internship in DC. Otherwise seems super “up-in-the-air”-y and I probably would have unloaded my internship search stress onto you, haha.
- Can we hang before you leave?
Hell yeah! I’m super swamped with work this quarter, but I will do anything to put my relationships with people ahead of my work. That can always be done at 2am or 3am….right?? *insert laughing crying emoji* But seriously, even if we haven’t talked in a long time, or even if you just friended me on Facebook but we haven’t actually talked in person, reach out to me and I would love to grab boba or some food! If you’re looking for opportunities around the UCLA campus or a consulting internship I might be able to help!
- I’m on the east coast! Let’s hang?!
YESSSS. Honestly I’ve been wanting to visit you all for so long. I’m planning on making a New York trip sometime before mid April, but honestly all plans are like super TBA. Just for your reference, I’ll be in DC from March to June, so feel free to PM me if you wanna hang! I’ll do my best :)
- Why are you going into public policy? Aren’t you going into consulting?
Great question (that’s not actually commonly asked. LOL)! To keep this as short as possible, my senior year of high school I was part of a life changing program called “We the People.” It’s a high school civics competition where students role play as congressional witnesses on a variety of current civics issues. Going through this program completely changed how I look at politics and government institutions. I truly believe in the idea that people shape institutions, then institutions shape people. Institutions are fallible because they’re created and run by people, but they aren’t incorrectable. I have always wanted to be a part of the group that helps correct the problems with our political/economic institutions. The reason why I’m going into consulting after college is because I think by understanding how institutional change happens in the free market, I can learn about how and what contexts can the same mechanisms be applied in the public sector. But tl;dr — I believe change in government is possible so that is my long term goal, but in the short term, I want to get private industry experience.
As I mentioned earlier… I feel so honored and fortunate to be able to participate in this program. There are a ton of people I need to thank, so I’ll do my best to cover all of my bases by grouping everybody:
- Mom and Dad: Honestly, thank you both so much to let me pursue this crazy not-so-financially-lucrative dream of mine. I really could have just graduated earlier to save you money, but after explaining why I want to do this program and where I see myself in the future, you supported me whole heartedly.
- CAPPP/UCDC Program Administrators: Not going to lie — this was not an easy process. Or at the very least, this was more challenging than I thought, haha. Thank you all so much for supporting me, giving me resources, and keeping me focused!
- My friends who I’ve loaded my stress onto: You know who you are LOL. Thank you so much for just being there and listening to what sounded like a very personal/privileged problem that you may or may not have been able to relate to.
- My “We the People” coaches, mentors, and teammates: The crazy ride we took in 2014 was just so life changing. At first we couldn’t win a single level of competition for our lives, but we did well when it mattered most. To all of the coaches and mentors — while it may not have been apparent at the time since I always sucked during Q&A (lol), every word of feedback, news, and your own perspective have stuck with me to this day, and have shaped my own ambitions and outlook on the world. And for that, I thank you all so much; the work you do is so important and seriously under appreciated. To my 2014, 2nd (by only a few percent of all of the points) best National WTP team: you all know it as well as I do about the rollercoaster of emotions, drama, and extreme dedication it took to get to where we got to. At times we were best friends with each other, and at others, we hated each other with all of our guts. But we all grew up in some way that year, and I’m so happy and glad it was with you all. You all are the best — we definitely need to do more reunions, and even if we haven’t talked in a long time, hit me up! I’m down to skype or even just Facebook message :)