A Capitol Encounter: Scripps Students Explore State Politics on Eve of Midterm Elections

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During a recent visit to Sacramento at the end of October, Isabella Melsheimer ’22 learned a lot about how an election cycle can affect the inner workings of government. “I have a lot more insight into the rapid pace of change that people working in government endure because of changes in administration,” she says.

Melsheimer, along with 11 other students, visited the seat of California’s state government on a Career Exploration Trek, one of many treks offered throughout the year by the Carlotta Wells ’39 Center for Career Planning and Resources (CP&R). These treks are aimed at connecting Scripps students to high-quality employers and professionals across the nation. Their deep dive into government and public affairs included networking with politicians and aides, professionals in advocacy and lobbying, and other leaders and experts—including Scripps parents and 5Cs alumni. Students also heard from experts from the Department of Health Care Services, the California State Auditor’s Office, the State Capitol, and the Capitol Museum, to name a few.

Alexis Osifo '22

Photo of Alexis Osifo ’22

For Alexis Osifo ’22, learning how to network with other professionals was a particularly valuable aspect of the trip. “It was helpful to learn how to connect with business professionals, and I think this trek did a good job in that aspect. I had never truly networked or ‘put myself out there’ before this,” said the prospective politics major, who hopes to become a trial attorney.

“We strive to offer treks that are focused on industries of interest to our students, based on their majors or what they report as aspirational career goals. We also focus on regions students say they want to end up in after graduation, as well as areas where we have a large alumnae base,” says Rachel Acello, interim director of CP&R. One of the great things about the Sacramento trek was how it aligned with students’ career interests and majors, as well as how topical it was.”

“Scripps students are always engaged in current events and the political climate, so that’s a big part of what drew applicants to this particular trek,” Acello elaborates. “Interestingly, we had a large amount of first-year students on this trek, indicating that the class of 2022 may be particularly engaged.”

CP&R treks

Previous treks offered by CP&R include a Bay Area tech trek, a San Diego health, science, and research trek, a Washington, D.C., government policy trek, and a Los Angeles careers in entertainment trek, among others. And central to the success of these expeditions is the strong network of parents and alumnae that volunteer their time and connections for Scripps students.

Alumna Stephanie Park ’13, for example, helped organize two of the Sacramento panels as well as recruited Gail Gronert P’22, parent to a first-year student, who got trek participants expanded access to the State Assembly.

While it is common for colleges to host employer recruiters on campus, the CP&R treks take students on the road, combining experiential learning and hands-on experience with professional relationship-making, learning the steps they need to take to forge their professional paths, and reaching out to potential employers and applying for jobs—to wit, students have garnered employment and internships based on the professional connections they made while on treks.

For Osifo, seeing the professional trajectories of people who are now how doing jobs that they love was her favorite aspect of the trek. “It was nice to learn that everyone had different backgrounds and they all somehow ended in careers that they enjoyed.”