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Robert Vega, Director FAC 18 / 2304 Whitis Ave. Stop G6200 78712-1508 • 512-471-7900

Texas House of Representatives, Rep. Dawna Dukes

Spring 2012 Site Review

Position: Legislative Intern
Student: Government Senior

Working at the Office of State Representative Dawnna Dukes has taught me a great deal about work ethic, delegating tasks, and how much there is to be accomplished with a position. A typical week working under Representative Dawnna Dukes Office involves working with constituent casework, scheduling events for representative Dukes, community outreach projects, attending events on behalf of Representative Dukes, speechwriting, and several other tasks.

Focusing more specifically on a typical day at the office, upon entering the office, the first thing I usually hear is the phone ringing. Working at the office we are always getting calls from constituents regarding problems that they have encountered. The problems vary from housing issues, arrest warrants, child custody cases, and more. One incident in which I had a case that was really hard was when one of the people in the Representative's district was denied Medicare. He did not know why he was denied and needed assistance because he was disabled and lived in a lower socio-economic class. So I will have to get tons of information such as the persons social security, case number, contact information, and more to look into it. Sometimes the information we need can go from minutes to days to get. At times, the cases are very hard to deal with mentally because some of the stories I hear really are scary and are upsetting to know that people have to deal with specific issues like this in their life.

Aside from doing constituent casework, another part of my typical day is working on speeches for the representative. I see this as a pretty hard job to do because I sometimes do not know the direction that the representative wants for the speech. I have written five-minute and ten-minute speeches. The speeches usually take a week for me to write because I must gather the information for the representative and after gathering the information I have to organize how I want it and then begin writing. What is really hard with speeches is that the representative always wants a joke. The jokes are tricky because I have never written a joke for a speech until I started working here.

Overall, this is just a typical day at the office. There is so much more to experience working a week and working months at the capital. The environment is very encouraging because you have people who have similar passions as you doing similar tasks to reach their goals. The tasks do vary and there are always interesting and insightful conversations from the people you meet.

Spring 2012 Site Review

Position: Legislative Intern
Student: Government Senior

My internship at the office of State Representative Dawnna Dukes  consists of dealing with constituent casework, writing memos, attending committee meetings, dealing with the media, communicating with constituents, attending office events along with or in lieu of the entire staff, running errands, writing speeches, communicating with other offices, and researching and pitching legislative ideas.

I do not do all of these things every day, but I do most of these things at least once a week. Writing memos is probably the most consistent task I have been given. I do this almost every day.  I write them over anything and everything to do with Health and Human Services, which is the area I was assigned to because I stated that I had the most interest in healthcare issues during my interview. Some memo materials are given to me. Our Chief of Staff finds new articles and issue relating to healthcare every day, so usually I have memo material waiting for me in the morning. On some mornings, I search the Austin, Dallas, and Houston newspapers for issues that fall under the umbrella of Health and Human services, copy them, and write short memos outlining the major issues discussed.

Dealing with constituents and constituent casework is also an almost daily task. Pretty much anytime the phone rings, it’s a constituent with a concern, complaint, or problem that needs solving. My job, then, is to listen and help them the best I can. Sometimes this involves just explaining something, and sometimes this involves cutting through government bureaucracy to help them get what they need.

Overall, this was a really great internship and I have learned a great deal not only about Texas government and politics, but also about myself and my talents and abilities. I highly encourage people to intern, and especially at the capitol because there is simply no place like it. Even though you do not get paid and the time commitment is significant (at least 15 hours per week), the contacts you make and the things you learn make it all worthwhile.

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