Texas House of Representatives, Rep. Ryan Guillen
Summer 2012 Site Review
Position: Legislative Intern
Student: Government Senior
Texas State Representative Ryan Guillen’s unpaid legislative internship accepts undergraduate and graduate students to work in the Representative’s capitol office in downtown Austin for 20 hours per week. A Democrat from Rio Grande City, the Representative serves a large district in South Texas and chairs the House’s Culture, Recreation, and Tourism Committee. Interns assist with a variety of research and communication tasks, and they learn about state-level policymaking by helping the office outline its legislative priorities.
Each intern is assigned an area of primary responsibility, such as casework or legislative research, but experiences all of the office’s functions. Each day’s agenda is unique. I specialize in communications and begin most mornings by researching news in the district so that I can report on events that affect constituents to the communications director. I then take some time to prepare and mail condolence cards to relatives of those who recently passed away in the district. Checking my email for assignments and replies on requests for information from state agencies, I usually move on to record recent emails and letters to the Representative into a database and draft responses. I may then research an event that the Representative is planning to attend or help manage his social media presence. I help draft letters of support for local governments and nonprofits that enter grant competitions, and I occasionally assist with casework by speaking with constituents about their problems with government and coordinating with state agencies and congressional representatives to find solutions. The Representative often calls in to request research on state laws and services, and all of the interns in the office collaborate to compile reports that answer his questions.
Spring 2011 Site ReviewPosition: Capitol Legislative Intern
Student: Middle Eastern Studies Senior
Being an intern at the Texas State Capitol during the 82nd Legislature was an exciting time. Days are spent in a hurry to meet deadlines, meet and greet with constituents and lobbyists, and keeping up with the most recent order of business. Everyone staffed at the Capitol are young in age which makes it easier to communicate to your colleagues and also it makes for a fun work environment.
Working as an intern for House Representative Ryan Guillen (D), I came into the office three days a week for five hours each of those days. Guillen’s staff was pretty flexible on hours though and understood if I had to miss a few hours to meet with a teacher or to do extra studying. This helped take the stress off having being in school fulltime and interning for free.
Task assignments at the Capitol are redundant. A typical task would be to gather materials together to make multiple bill folders for the same bill so that it can go to each Committee member for a bill to be heard. This requires the intern to make several copies a day. Also the organizational system at the Capitol is lacking, so several hours a day interns are asked to make/update spreadsheets as an organizational tool but a week later that same spreadsheet is dropped and you are asked to create a new one each week. There is a lot of inputting and updating the office files and client/constituent information. All in all, the tasks given to interns at the Capitol is mindless busy work but you get the occasional free lunch from lobbyists.
Spring 2010 Site ReviewPosition: Legislative Intern
Student: Asian Cultures & Languages/Government Junior
In Spring 2010, I worked at the Office of State Representative Ryan Guillen. My office was located in the Capitol and my responsibilities included answering phone calls, working on constituent casework, and attending meetings and conferences. The Texas State Representatives are rarely in their Capitol offices so my office was mainly run by his Chiefs of Staff. I worked alongside 8 other interns and he allowed us to work on the topics that interested us the most.
During my first two weeks of work, I attended the Texas Business Association conference where I learned a lot about the education system of Texas and how businesses take an active role in the system. I was within 5 feet of Texas Governor Rick Perry who gave the closing speech at the conference. By being a representative of my office for this conference, I felt like I learned a lot about the way state offices function. I took notes at the conferences and reported back to my office to see what plans the business men and women have in mind for the upcoming legislative session in 2011. Based off of this information, state officials work toward creating laws that align with that the bigger goal for Texas is.
My office was really flexible with my class schedule which helped a lot. I worked all 5 days of the week during mainly in the afternoons. They were flexible enough to give me days off when I had Indian Students Association events. I went into work around 1 or 2 and checked my email. The Chiefs of Staff would then assign us something to work on. Since I worked while the legislative session was not in session there wasn’t as many things going on. There was a lot of down time at times but when I worked on a task, I was rather focused and occupied.
Overall, my experiences at the office were really helpful for the future. I learned how to work with my colleagues and proper office etiquette. Both are valuable skills that I can take from my internship and apply them to any future internship or jobs.