By Ben Churchill Superintendent Carlsbad Unified School District
This summer three Carlsbad Unified students are learning about government from the inside out. Chris Hamner from Carlsbad High School, and Brandon Pagán and Bryce Buscher from Sage Creek High School, are working as interns in the office of California State Assemblyman Rocky Chavez. Recent CUSD graduate Shakiba Mashayekhi will also be interning in the office in the fall.
These students are getting first hand experience in a legislator’s office while practicing business skills such as teamwork, customer service, and time management. Although these internships are unpaid, they are valuable opportunities for students to increase their personal knowledge about government, build workplace skills, and expand their networks.
Brandon Pagán has most enjoyed participating in community events such as the Oceanside Fourth of July Parade, where he met and spent time with Assemblyman Chavez. Brandon reported that “He’s a nice guy!” He is accumulating community service hours and gaining a new perspective. “By working on the inside I am learning about how government works, how the Assemblyman’s office serves the community, and the kind of issues that our constituents have.” He also organizes the emails that are received by the office and makes certificates to recognize citizens for their achievements.
Bryce Buscher is a senior who plays baseball for SCHS and is interested in pursuing a career in politics or business. He finds researching issues and analyzing public policies to be the most rewarding assignments and enjoys writing policy papers about how an issue impacts the community. He also creates databases from emails sent by constituents who request a vote on a particular issue. He helps people with problems, and reads newspapers looking for articles about people who deserve recognition for their contributions to the community. His biggest surprise? How hard elected officials work.
The Assemblyman’s office sends information about internships to counselors at the high schools, and then students call or email the office to express their interest in applying. Students send a resume and a cover letter explaining what they want to gain from the internship experience. This year there were many interested students, and spaces were limited. Internships generally last two or three months, and students usually work in the office four to eight hours per week. High school or college students are invited to apply.
Carlsbad Unified values the real-life learning experiences that the Assemblyman’s office and all internship programs offer our students. To that end, Carlsbad High School offers a comprehensive Internship Academy in which over 150 students participate in a summer career experience in businesses, nonprofits, or government offices each year. Making classroom learning relevant by applying its lessons to the workplace keeps students motivated and goal-directed. We believe that our students need to learn the skills and knowledge today that will prepare them for the careers of tomorrow.