U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Lloyd Doggett
Spring 2012 Site Review
Position: District Intern (Austin)
Student: Government Sophomore
A day in my internship in Congressman Lloyd Doggett’s office consists of various tasks, but may vary depending on the day. Usually we begin by going through the Congressman’s emails, and route those emails to the respective staff members that are to deal with the topic of a given email. If there is an email in regards to Veterans issues, there is someone on staff that specializes in that particular area; if there is an email on case work, we route that email to a caseworker. This process usually consumes the first hour of the day in a usual morning.
Afterwards we usually go through the “letters to the editor” section of the Austin American Statesman, and go through constituents’ opinions on particular matters. Many times there are letters that refer to an issue that the Congressman might be interested in, so it is our job to make note of such letters.
The last two tasks mentioned are usually typical of everyday, but other days different tasks arise. For example, there are days when postal mail gets returned due to an incorrect address, so it’s our job to go through that mail and correct the addresses in our database. Other days there are no interns working in the Congressman’s office in Washington D.C., so it is our job to go through the emails that they usually go through (the emails received there are different than emails received in the district office). Here I could go on and on about the different administrative tasks that arise because every day is different.
The thing that is always the same in Lloyd Doggett’s district office is that the phones are always ringing! It is the intern’s job to be ready to pick up the phones and talk to the constituents. I will admit that most calls are from people who need to speak specifically with a caseworker or other staff member, so those calls are usually transferred. But when people are not asking for someone by name, they are usually calling to voice their opinions on national matters or are seeking assistance with a particular federal matter. Whatever the issue, it is our responsibility to record that information and listen to the constituent. This part of the internship is the most important, and many of these calls can last upwards of 15 minutes.
Student: American Studies Senior
Position: Constituent Services Intern (District Office, Austin)
An internship at Congressman Lloyd Doggett’s office can entail a lot of different duties and tasks, and if you are sincerely interested in learning how a Congressional office functions, then it is a worthwhile internship. I caution those that are looking for a glamorous 12 hours per week to look elsewhere. Most of the interns in the office do the jobs the paid staff does not want to do, which usually centers around dealing with constituents, or voters and the general public.
Interns answer the telephones, log comments received over the phone in the Intranet Quorum database a behemoth software program that interns learn to navigate. IQ has every voter in the district logged into it, so whenever a constituent gives the Congressman his take on policy issues via e-mail, phone, or mail, then interns put these correspondences on the person’s individual record.
Described above is the general Congressional District Office internship. I was lucky enough to secure an internship doing constituent services, or casework. This is another angle of the District Office, helping constituents with their problems with the federal government. I fax constituent concerns and Privacy Releases to Social Security offices and Veterans Affairs Administration offices around Texas, log constituent concerns and steps in their casework file in their IQ profile. I highly suggest those with a strong public service background and also a desire in politics to consider soliciting one of the Austin area Congressional offices to be a casework intern.
This fall semester I had the privilege of working in the District Office of Congressman Lloyd Doggett for my internship position. As an intern, 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 12 hours of work per week for this internship position, so I opted to do so 4 hours a day, over 3 days a week.
To describe the responsibilities expected of this position, a significant portion of the internship position was the handling communication correspondence between constituents and the Congressman. A significant role was to answer the phone and assist the caller in their needs; ranging from constituent concerns, opinions about certain topics, or questions about casework. Phone communication was the primary method of correspondence, but I also dealt with traditional mail and email communication from constituents. My assistance in constituent correspondence is an important duty of the District Office because this is frequently the first point of contact with Congressman’s staff for constituent services, therefore communication is key. 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 input data for constituent’s records. This information is important to keep record of the Congressman’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.
One of the proudest moments of my college career was the first day of my internship when I was given my badge with my name, picture, and the words, “United States House of Representatives.” Interning for a Congressman is a very rewarding and exciting experience. Each day brings new challenges and new rewards. Because of the wide array of interns and tasks, it is almost impossible to describe the “typical” role of an intern; however, there are a few key features that are inherent to all interns in the Office of U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett.
The workday begins at 8:30am each day. The first task is turning the voicemail off and checking the incoming voicemails from the night before, making sure to capture as much information as possible from each message. Then, throughout the day interns answer the incoming phone calls for the office, redirecting calls as necessary and taking messages for the rest. This task is one of the most important and most common tasks in the office. Regardless of other projects or tasks occurring, the phone does not stop and interns are responsible for attending calls.
In addition to answering the phone, interns are given various daily projects from staff members including scanning, copying, data entry, drafting customized constituent responses, redirecting incoming emails, and greeting constituents among many things. All interns are supervised by one staff member with whom they share an office; however, any and all staff members may request the assistance of interns from time-to-time to assist with any on-going projects in which the staff member is engaged. The most important trait of a potential intern is flexibility. The office is ever-changing an someone that can go with the flow and adapt will have the most successful internship experience.