City Hall is the place to be for Cal High interns

iQuest students work in a variety of departments for San Ramon


Cameron Ho

Many Cal High students intern with city departments at San Ramon City Hall.

Through Cal High’s iQuest program, seniors are able to find a wide range of internship opportunities in fields ranging from medicine to merchandising.
But San Ramon’s City Hall seems to attract the most students each year as they test the water of working in the city government.
Senior Kent Kawashima is one of them. He interns for San Ramon’s building and safety department and wishes to pursue a career in architecture.
The building and safety department is responsible for issuing building construction permits, as well as monitoring and inspecting projects performed by residents and contractors to make sure they are following the California Building Code (CBC).
Since the CBC changes every four years, Kawashima has been updating the pamphlets to make sure they are up to code.
One of his favorite parts of the internship is ride-along tours.
“I just think those are really interesting because I actually got to go with the building inspectors, and they kind of go around the city and inspect the additions and changes people have made to like their houses,” Kawashima said. “They’re the ones that inspect that and make sure that [buildings are] following the code.”
Senior Haly Carlson, another intern for the building and safety department, wishes to pursue a career in structural engineering. Through her internship, Carlson has acquired more skills in the field of engineering.
Carlson said she didn’t know anything about Visual Basics for Applications (VBA) before the internship.
“I actually learned a lot about it, and now I’m actually able to envision Visual Basic,” Carlson said. “Also I just feel like my interpersonal skills are better, because I haven’t worked with coworkers and that was a first time experience.”
Carlson has been working on a couple of different projects. She automated sending emails to people with expired permits and is looking at intercity permits. She is comparing the permit prices in the San Ramon jurisdiction to permit prices in Danville, Dublin and Walnut Creek. In the future, Carlson would like to open her own environmentally friendly private firm.
“I think it would be really cool. It will take a lot of work, but I want to do projects that I like and that [are] sustainable,” Carlson said. “I feel like if I am the boss of my own firm, I can do more environmentally sustainable projects.”
Senior Kushal Dave is interning for the public works department in the engineering division. Dave checks and uploads permits on city websites to avoid disputes between people and companies.
“Let’s just say Comcast is digging up in front of someone’s house right? The person of the house wants to see if everything [Comcast is doing] got approved,” Dave said. “So what they [the homeowner] can do is they can go on the city website to see how long the permits are available for things like that.”
Dave wishes to pursue a career in either civil or mechanical engineering. His internship has helped him gain hands-on experience learning new applications such as parcel maps, which shows the boundaries of each lot of land, and ArcGIS, which is used to make and analyze different types of maps.
Senior Aditi Nanda is an intern for the city manager and worked under the city communication analyst last semester. She advertised city events, organized meetings, and communicated with other city departments. Her advice for anyone improving their communication skills is to be open.
“Try to interact with someone,” Nanda said. “I know it’s hard when you just take the first step to reach out to someone, but I think it’s worth it because what’s the worst that’s gonna happen? If they say no, move on. If they say yes, it works great. It’s a new opportunity.”
This semester, Nanda will also be working for the paralegals and attorneys. Through both internships, Nanda hopes to acquire more skills to pursue a career in business and law.
“City Hall is a business at the end of the day,” Nanda said. “For example, they do have their own specific departments to run the city, so that helped in the business side of things because I’ve seen how an actual office works.”
City Hall internships provide students with the opportunity to grow while improving their resumes and helping them acquire more refined skills specific to their many interests.
Another characteristic that makes internships with the city of San Ramon attractive is the ability for students to explore their interests while helping their city and home.
“They’re really learning how to connect with people and how to network,” Cal High iQuest adviser Michelle Turner said. “They walk away with a really good resume. They’re learning so many skills that most people don’t pick up until like their junior or senior year in college, which is really cool.”