Out West student blog

Behind the scenes of policymaking in California’s Capitol building

Adrianna Zhang stands in front of the California State Capitol building

Adrianna Zhang stands in front of the California State Capitol building in Sacramento, CA.


Adrianna Zhang (she/her)
Hometown: San Francisco

Major: Public Policy ‘26

Internship: Office of California Governor Gavin Newsom

Adrianna Zhang reflects on her experience interning at the California Governor’s Office

During my internship at California Governor Gavin Newsom’s Office, my role in the office is to assist a senior policy advisor in the Governor's Cabinet Unit, which oversees the implementation of policies at state agencies. At the office, I’m proud to be a part of a larger team that spearheads California’s goals of becoming a more diverse, equitable, and sustainable state. I love that I’ve been able to turn my passion for social justice towards projects such as a policy memo I am writing that analyzes the policies of other states and countries to better address California’s aging prison population. As part of the memo, I explore the relationship between state and local actors, draft specific policy recommendations for the Governor's Office to explore, and participate in meetings with senior staff to address the issue. 

Outside of the office, I’ve been able to spend most of my week at home in San Francisco while commuting several days a week to Sacramento. I was excited to apply to the internship because I’d get to experience the thrill of the capital city. While in Sacramento, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting an amazing intern cohort, a group from around the nation who I gratefully now consider both colleagues and mentors to me. I’m inspired by how they are deeply interested in California politics, bringing to the table unique policy interests and backgrounds.

My work in the Governor’s office has been extremely fulfilling for my interests and served as confirmation that I want to continue working in government post-college. The office culture has been extremely welcoming and I admire how much agency the executive branch has, leading the way for the team to push for actionable and effective changes within the state government. I am still passionate about pursuing that change and working with all people to create a more equitable California.

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Photo courtesy of Brandon Kapelow

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