Spring 2012 Site Review
Position: Senate Intern
Student: Sociology Senior
This semester I had the privilege of working as a messenger for the Texas Senate for my internship position. As a messenger, I assisted in a wide array of different duties, to include but not limited to: administrative tasks, legislative research, and public service relations. It was required to perform 20 hours of work per week for this internship position, so I opted to do so 4 hours a day each weekday.
To describe the responsibilities expected of this position, a significant portion of the internship position was handling communication correspondence between offices and committees. A significant role was to transfer the correspondence to and from each destination. Another significant duty was to answer the phone and assist the caller in their needs; ranging from constituent concerns, opinions about certain topics, or questions about casework. Written communication was the primary method of correspondence, but I also dealt with telephone and email communication from constituents. My assistance in office and constituent correspondence is an important duty of the Senate Messengers because communication is key for all of the offices and committees to transfer information. This is also significant in assessing the constituent’s objectives and needs to be able to direct them to the staff member to best serve their needs. Another important duty of this internship was to assist office staff with varying tasks such as inputting data for constituent’s records. This information is important to keep record of the Senator’s contacts, keep up to date on constituent’s mailing information for supporters to receive mail, to remain current on demographic information, as well as many other benefits.
Spring 2011 Site ReviewPosition: Senate Messenger
Student: Geography Junior
Being a Senate Messenger is a great learning experience. Seeing the senators debate on the senate floor and interact in committees is different from learning about government in a textbook. Their are day that can be very entertaining and others that make you wonder why you took the job. If you decide this is something you want to do be prepared for anything.
On some days you will be able to sign up to work in the varying committees or in the chamber. Committees can sometimes be very interesting especially when hearing public testimony. The individuals who take the time to testify for, on, or against the bill are very involved in that particular bill. Many times they offer stories of why they feel so strongly about the bill and change your own opinion. However, when committees run until late in the night, and people give the same testimony and the countless people before them, it can get to be very tedious. Chamber was the best part of the job. Being able to sit so close to the senators has advantages to sitting the the gallery. You are able to hear what they say quietly to other senators and read how they will vote before the actually vote.
Their are parts of the job I could have done without in my daily routine. Running interdepartmental mail from office to office can be monotonous. Doing this though, you are able to talk to the different staff member of the Senators. This can help you later when you want to move from the messenger pit to something different. Probably, what many would consider under utilizing the messenger’s skill are the various “projects” we are asked to do. Stuffing thousands on envelopes to send to the senator’s constituents does not require much skill.
Being a senate messenger is something that is great to do while you are young and if you are interested in government and politics. It is a good place to start your first job and you truly do learn a lot.
Spring 2011 Site ReviewPosition: Messenger
Student: Government/History Sophomore
A day in the life of William McWhorter, I like the way that sounds. If you’re going to work at the Capital you need to plan your schedule accordingly. This job is not for the weak minded because the energy and time that it takes out of your everyday life. The work days are four hour shifts, but you shouldn’t be surprised if your asked to work late because the senators still have important business that must be addressed. If you work late then you will see thrilling and intense debates between legislators because they are talking about controversial and imperative issues.
I work two to six everyday of the week, which is why I organized my class schedule to allow me to be done around noon each day, except Fridays when I don’t have class. I started at the five to nine shift, but I didn’t want to work that late shift because I would’ve have been in class all day, then have to work for four hours, and then I would need to go to the library to study and complete my assignments. I recommend earlier shifts because it frees up the rest of the day and allows you to be completely involved in the business of the senate: session, committee meetings, errands, etc.
Each day I arrive at work around 1:30-1:45, which allows me time to clock in and set my computer up in our office to use when I’m not doing something work related. Everyday I wear a coat and tie, have my id bag, and I am clean-shaven too. I have a strict boss, whom is a former marine, thus we do everything by the book with no questions asked because he runs a tight operation. Depending on the schedule of the senate, I go into session for usually two hours, around 2:30 to assist in passing out bills and helping the staff and senators with their requests. Session is very exciting because they are discussing and arguing over real life issues that will have significant affects on my self and others. The most controversial and thrilling bills I’ve listened to senators debate over are the bills requiring a woman to get a sonogram right before an abortion, allowing concealed hand guns in university campus buildings, and the budget for the state.
After session is over, I sit in on committee meetings usually for an hour, and aid in passing out bills or testimonies from witnesses regarding certain legislation. I sat in on a Criminal Justice committee meeting that featured a bill outlawing all related items on cock fighting between roosters. The people that testified were very passionate about the bill because it would mandate them to throw any materials away associated with fighting or be charged with a crime. These citizens were against this because these items were there personal possessions or passed down to them over the years.
Once I’m finished with committee meetings, I go back to the office and run errands until my shift is over. Errands entail going from one senator’s office or committee office to another, in which I transport important legislation or other documents. There are instances where you might be required to run a multiple, which is going from the initial office to several offices to drop off legal papers. This job is worth all of the effort because of the experience it gives you, the prominence it will have on a resume, and the contacts that will be made with important legislators and other figures.
Spring 2011 Site ReviewPosition: Senate Messenger, Phone Monitor
Student: Government Senior
To become a Senate Messenger I applied with the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms office and interviewed with our supervisor Brenda Vaughan and boss Rick Deleon. To become a messenger you must only apply and have an interview. To become a phone monitor you must go through phone training and go through another interview. The Phone Monitors are expected to arrive on time everyday, work a consistent 20 hours a week, and manage the Senate Messengers. It is imperative that everyone is well dressed and behaves professionally in the office and while running errands. Messengers are responsible for all the errands that Senate Offices require such as making copies, doing projects, helping transport things, and delivering documents between agencies. A typical 4-hour workday during the day is busy, and there is usually a constant demand for messengers. However, when there is downtime you are allowed to use a computer or read in the office and this has been invaluable when I have a lot of homework.
The Capitol is a very professional environment to work in, and the people you are surrounded by constantly are of importance and have impressive careers. This is both inspiring and at times daunting. As a supervisor, Brenda Vaughan is a great resource to learn about the Senate and to help with any issues that arise. As a boss, Rick DeLeon is rigid and holds the messengers to a very high standard set by the Texas Senate. Working for the Senate can be challenging, but it is also very rewarding and the people you meet can be valuable connections when deciding what career you wish to pursue.
Spring 2011 Site ReviewPosition: Legislative Intern
Student: Government Senior
My internship at the Capitol has been a rewarding one. I am currently a paid intern working 20 hours a week for a state representative’s capitol office. I am working for my state representative from my district, district 70. I have many roles, but my main one is handling constituent correspondence. A state representative’s office usually gets on average, 300 pieces of correspondence per week from the district via email, fax, and letter.
Each state representative’s office has a program called Constituent Management Systems. Every day that I came in I would open, sort, and log incoming correspondence, and then draft responses, send them, and then log the outgoing response. I also had the responsibility of scheduling. When people would call and ask for appointments with staff or the representative, I log their requests in the office shared Outlook calendar. My most enjoyable task is completing constituent casework. I have gotten to correspond with the Attorney General’s office in order to get a crime victim compensation for hospital bills, gotten to submit constituent requests to acquire Texas flags flown over the Capitol, and complete honorary page requests for little boys and girls wishing to serve for a day at the Legislature.
There is a lot of responsibility for interns working at the Capitol, because many times you need to act quickly in order to make sure that constituents receive responses to their emails or letters on time. Overall, it is nice to work in a place that is information rich with friendly people. You learn a lot just listening to what goes on around you and I would recommend it for any major that is interested in politics and in Texas.