What did you accomplish with your host organization? What was the impact of your work?
During the time with the California Coastal Commission, I knew my time there was limited. It was not enough to sufficiently digest aspects of a coastal program analyst to become an effective part of the operation. However, I quickly picked up that staff resources were mostly focused on handling permit items that have statutory deadlines. Hence I constantly asked myself this question: What can I contribute to this office at the operational level that other staff could not do because they have lacked resources (mostly time)? I was able to answer the question in two parts: 1. Develop a staff guideline for incorporating environmental justice in permit processes as mandated by the recently adopted Commission’s Environmental Justice Policy, and 2. Tackle the often disputed and confusing languages of local coastal programs (LCPs) to create a solid understanding of the Commission’s certified LCPs for the municipalities of San Pedro, Hermosa Beach, and Long Beach. I would like to appraise my efforts as a step forward in streamlining the everyday operation because these works will save the planners time and efforts to duplicate my work on their own.
Describe the benefits of this experience for you professionally and personally.
The time at Long Beach has been a wonderful experience. By assisting other planners with permit analyses and working single-handed on relatively simple permit items such as exemptions and waivers, I learned a lot about the laws and regulations under which the Commission operates to protect coastal resources, and how they play out in different situations. Working on LCP verification has equipped me with the understanding of general LCP process between the local governments and the Commission. These efforts are critical planning experiences that will help me in my professional career as an environmental planner. This summer also was an opportunity for personal development in that I was able to improve my communication skill in a proactive manner. In a work setting that everyone has his or her own busy schedule, I managed to make my way through with frequent communications with my supervisor and coworkers to define my scope of work.
Did your experience provide any unexpected discovery, self-reflection, or epiphany?
I believe this summer has been an opportunity to reinforce my aspiration to be in the coastal planning and work for the public good. Coastal planning will be of increasing significance because coastal cities attract people. 40% of world population lives near the coast already and increasing threats to coastal cities require thorough planning. The idea of public service has always inspired me because it gives me additional motive in addition to financial considerations. This summer fulfilled my aspirations and made me more eager to take my professional step in this field. The flexible work environment also very much suited me. Now, I have formally applied to the positions in the Commission. I am excited to see where this awesome summer experience will take to me to.