We’re so grateful for our summer fellow, Ryan Saraie. Below is a feature of him from the Cal in the Capital Blog 2017. Thank you so much, Ryan!
UC Berkeley Class of 2019
Environmental Economics & Policy Major
Internet Education Foundation
After six long, hard years of being away, I finally returned to Washington DC. No, one week-long trip in the eighth grade wasn’t enough. I knew I had to come back. Every moment leading up to this summer was exciting, from applying for internships to buying plane tickets. I honestly had a great time going through baggage claim.
In spite of all of the expectations I had set for the summer, I never once thought that I would ever be experiencing DC as a normal city that people do normal things in. Sure, I checked out the National Mall and toured the US Capitol Building, but eventually I was going to less touristy things like farmers markets and open mic nights. Recently, I have learned that DC has a unique culture, one in which politics and personal life often mesh together. Here, politics has a role in its residents’ careers, beliefs, and aspirations. It’s nice to live in an environment in which most people care about the public problems that affect everyday lives, which is what partially drew to me to living in DC for the summer.
Working in this city has given me the opportunity to better understand my role as someone interested in being involved with politics. I have known for a while that I wanted to engage in the policy realm and help improve the lives of others, but I never knew in what capacity. From interning with the Internet Education Foundation (or IEF), I have gained a sincere interest in working within the intersection of tech and policy to solve pressing issues that affect the general public. Specifically, I’m doing work on the Congressional App Challenge, an IEF-sponsored national coding competition that exists to get kids of all ages and backgrounds involved in computer programming. Interning within this route of tech policy is rewarding, and I never would have realized that I found this field to be enjoyable without being in DC.
This summer experience has notably affected my future career path. I have always believed that Washington DC is an awesome city, and after going through this program I am now fairly certain that I would enjoy living in the DC-Maryland- Virginia area. I will probably be applying for future internships/jobs within the area. Prior to my time with the IEF, I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to be potentially employed at a nonprofit. After almost two months in my internship, I am very satisfied with the work I do, and I am sure that I could thrive in a nonprofit setting. Above all else, I have honestly become more inspired than ever to work on public issues. A big thank you to those who supported me in my journey to DC, and GO BEARS!!!