Texas House of Representatives
Spring 2011 Site ReviewPosition: Assistant
Student: Government Senior
A day in the life of an intern at the Capitol for a House of Representative at times can vary in a range of responsibilities. No day is the exactly same. Some days you will have phones ringing off the hook, needing to be answered or people coming into the office. Whatever information that comes into the office needs to be sorted out and merged into an organized manageable database. Whereas other days, you might be running errands, for example going to the floor to give the Representative papers to be signed. Whatever the task maybe you will learn something new about the professional work environment. It was hard going into work when you know you were not getting paid and nerve racking to know that they were depending on you to do a good job. The professionalism that I have acquired did not happen overnight; I had to trial and error it for a while. I was not perfect when I had to give my first interview. I was nervous and afraid that I would miss represent our office. Before, working at the Capitol I only had jobs that I consider “high school jobs,” for example Abercrombie and Fitch. It was a mindless job that did not require any use of my brain at all and the same goes for Carrabba’s.
The internship was a weird transition to go though. I am glad that I did that internship. Opened my eyes to the professional world that I am glad I learned before going into something that really counts. This internship was like baby steps to get me motived to continue to farer my goals and aspirations. One thing that I learned about working in this environment is that I do not know everything and it is okay to ask questions. My bosses stressed to us if we do not understand something then they would rather us ask before we do the task instead guessing and getting it wrong. But if we did get it wrong that it was okay and that this was a learning experience for all of us. I am glad that my Representative was a freshman because it made it easier to learn because no one fully knew what to expect.
Spring 2011 Site ReviewPosition: Legislative Intern
Student: Government Senior
A day at the Capitol is like no other. I arrive around 8AM (assuming our committees do not meet before that time) and look through the mail, seeing what letters need a response and what information the Representative needs to see before voting on a bill. Some the mail I file away in a large cabinet, designating what organization the document came from and what the subject matter is. Next, I start writing letters to respond to constituents. This is a long and sometimes tedious process because oftentimes, they will write to us about a bill which we are unfamiliar with. Perhaps it has not even been heard in its respective committee, in which case most everyone but the author is unfamiliar with the contents of the legislation, why it was filed, and what fiscal impact it may have. From here, I will look for more information about the legislation. I can read the bill myself and/or contact the author’s office for “talking points” on it, and after gathering more information I can speak to the Representative and help her form an opinion on it. Once we have an idea how we will vote on the bill, I can start to formulate a response, oftentimes being very vague in the process. Throughout the day, citizens from all over the state call and share their opinions and I have to take these calls as they come.
Some days I take meetings with lobbyists in the Representative’s office, particularly when we suspect the group is going to offer little new information and when the Chief of Staff is too busy to sit down with them. My task here is mostly to take notes, nod my head occasionally, and ask some questions that could help us legislate in the future. My time commitment as an intern was whatever I wanted it to be. I was required to come to work for three days a week, but I often opted to come in early, stay late, and also volunteered my time on the other two weekdays at the office. This was really beneficial because it led to my getting hired on.
Spring 2010 Site ReviewPosition: Legislative Intern
Student: Government Senior
Interning at the state capitol of Texas in different than any job I have ever done. On a daily basis, you can find any and every kind of citizen wandering the vast marbled halls, or protesting on the grand steps out front. Working for the House is a bit different that the Senate, because the House is so much larger that all of it’s employees are doomed to be underground in the maze of offices. Its kind of like a shopping mall, except each office is selling the idea that they represent their own constituency the best. A day in the life of intern usually follows as: wake up early, drink a lot of coffee. Suit and tie, or professional attire only. Some Fridays you can het away with wearing jeans and going casual, but usually business dress all the way. Most interns park in a parking garage off San Jacinto and have to do a pretty long walk up to the elevator hubs that take you underground. But once you get some experience, sometimes your given the privilege of parking underground.
Once arriving at the capitol the usual first duty is to check the mail by the cafeteria, and then drink more coffee. Usually the mail takes a good hour to sort through because there are so many different types of organizations trying to reach the Representative you work for. Then more coffee. After mail, usually some constituents have requests that need tending to. This can be anything from writing a congrats letter with a forged signature, to having a Texas flag flown for someone on a special occasion and mailing it to them afterward. There is always a ton of paperwork. Either to be filed, shredded, or read, any person that works at the capitol has to be fluent in Microsoft programs such as Excel, Outlook, Word, etc… The day usually ends when your told you can leave or class arrives. Being an intern is both glorifying and boring, and its getting your foot in the door that counts. At the end of the day, all of the paper pushing and annoying constituent phone calls are forgotten when once can proudly say, “I work at the state capitol.”?”
Spring 2010 Site ReviewPosition: Legislative Aide
Student: Government Sophomore
As far as internship sites go, the Capitol is quite a spectacle. For the first few weeks of my internship, I would see the Capitol from campus or downtown and a surreal feeling would come over me- I actually work there. Unfortunately, the significance of the site was note reflected in the significance of the work that I was assigned. The terms "paper pushing" and "desk job" are the resounding phrases I would use to describe my experience.
As an intern, you do everything in the office that none of the other staffers want to do: Answer the phone and take messages, check the mail, enter countless correspondence into the online database, then file the countless correspondence. You're role is inferior to everyone else in the building. In meetings you listen to staffer's from other offices complain about the incompetency of "young irresponsible interns." But, you take it and smile, because it's all part of the social hierarchy of things here- especially if you want to be one of those powerful old important people that gets to boss interns around. With the exception of when the House is in session, everyday is the same- work is monotonous. If you're one of the lucky ones, you'll get paid.
Although my previous statements are cynical towards the industry, it is because I’ve discovered the industry is not for me. For those who are passionate about perusing a career in government or politics, all of the negative things I have listed are just critical stepping stones to get to a higher position. There are also some positive elements to the job, I just tend to focus on the negative because for me, the negatives way outweigh the positives. However, I did acquire a better understanding of Government, which affects everyone, including myself. I also gained more social capital than I ever imaged I would working at the Capitol.
Spring 2009 Site ReviewStudent:Government Sophomore
The position of a legislative intern for a Texas State Representative is a part-time, session-only position that is usually unpaid. The internship requires a flexible, dependable person with strong organizational abilities. You should also be able to work well under pressure, meet deadlines and maintain confidentiality. No previous experience is necessary but you should have an interest in the legislative process. By the end of the internship, you will have gained valuable knowledge of the Texas Legislature and developed strong networking skills.
You will work a minimum of 15 hours per week but must be able to work extended hours as required to meet demands during the legislative session. The daily responsibilities of a legislative intern are: answering phones, filing, working with constituents and lobbyists, preparing constituent correspondence, inputting data into computer programs, coordinating the Representative’s calendar, and organizing/preparing committee and floor packets. You will also be assigned other tasks including legislative research, preparing bill analyses, and tracking legislation. During the internship you will provide assistance to the Chief of Staff and Legislative Aide. You should have a positive attitude and the willingness to complete all tasks you are assigned.
Spring 2009 Site Review
A Day in the Life of a legislative intern begins around nine and ends around two, being about a five hour day. As a legislative intern, one works inside the Texas Capitol among Texas policy makers and their staff. A Day in the Life of a legislative intern involves many routine and administrative aspects, such as: answering phones, taking messages, greeting individuals who enter the office, sorting through mail, entering events into the calendar, responding to letters and replying to constituents either through correspondence or phone calls.
Having said that, “A Day in the Life of a legislative intern” is never routine; there is always something new happening and never is today’s work like yesterdays. Some of the more time consuming and important tasks involve writing; tasks like: writing press releases, bill analysis, speeches, and resolutions. Being that one must gather information about the subject matter before writing about it, such tasks also almost always involve research. Research is also necessary when reading over bills as it is necessary to know about the current law in order to understand how it is being amended. Another big part of a day in the life of an intern is meeting and interacting with new people whether it be: constituents, legal professionals, lobbyists, public officials, staff members, or other Representatives. As a legislative intern one has the unique opportunity to study and see the inner workings of the legislative process by gaining direct knowledge of how a legislative office functions and works to represent constituent issues and concerns.
“A Day in the Life of an intern” is all about learning; learning about the legislative process: how legislation is developed, drafted, and negotiated and learning firsthand about the decision-making process: the intersection of politics and law, and legislative institutions. In the midst of the learning and the doing, one finds themselves very much a part of the law making and political process.
Spring 2009 Site Review
The internship at the Texas House of Representatives has been an incredible learning experience. My duties as an intern changed and increased as the legislative session progressed. Initially, I was in charge of the filing and organization system for the office. Since this was the first session for the Representative, the office staff had to work extra hard in order to establish the office and a working relationship between the staff. The organization of a new member's office materials was not an easy task, but my co-workers were able to help me put together a system that was organized and efficient. I also helped considerably with constituent correspondence by drafting letters. I wrote the newsletter every week, analyzed bills, and occasionally helped draft the bill analysis that was necessary in order to submit the Representative's bills for consideration for a committee hearing. The mixture of different tasks and responsibilities gave me a well-rounded picture of the inner workings of a legislator's office and prepared me for a future in the field if I so choose.
A day in the life of a legislative intern is a mix of different projects and responsibilities. I usually started the morning by pulling the legislative clippings for the Representative and the rest of the staff. I often spent the morning catching up on filing different reports and looking over the constituent correspondence for the day. After eating lunch, I usually drafted letters for correspondence and summarized bills during the afternoon. These summaries included brief outlines and recommendations for the Representative to look over as he studied the bills. I usually left at five since I was an intern, but the rest of the staff often had to stay until late hours in the evening for committee hearings. The hours grew later as the session moved into May, and occasional Saturdays were required. All in all, it was a very satisfying and intensive learning experience.