Liberal Arts Career Services
Liberal Arts Career Services

Texas House of Representatives

Spring 2018

Position: Legislative Aide Intern, Representitive Mary E. Gonzalez
Student: IRG Junior

This semester I interned at the Texas House of Representatives with State Representative Mary E. Gonzalez; her office is located at the Texas Capitol. When looking to get an internship at the Texas Capitol or in Austin government agencies, there are literally hundreds of options available to interested college students. For instance, within the Texas Capitol, one could intern with an elected official at the Texas Senate, one of the 150 officials at Texas House of Representatives, a committee within either chamber of the legislature, a government agency ranging from the Texas Education Agency, to the Texas Health and Human Services, or a lobby group that advocates for legislation.

A typical day at my internship begins with finishing my courses for the day. After wrapping up my morning classes, I walk down Congress Avenue, past the Blanton and Bullock Museum and past 15th Street into the South Entrance of the Texas Capitol. After logging in to my computer and reviewing my email, I check in with my supervisor, who is the Chief of Staff for the office. Either the Chief of Staff or Legislative Director will have pending assignments for me to work on  or long term projects to complete. Depending on what project I am working on, I might schedule meetings with important stakeholders within that issue and later meet with them to learn and discuss potential solutions to our concerns. The vast majority of my work includes extensive research on issues that are important to Representative Gonzalez’s constituents and issues that are important to the people of Texas. For instance, given the current importance of immigration, Representative Gonzalez asks her staff to keep up to date on immigration issues and potential avenues for solutions or improvements. As part of a legislative office, we are often invited to hearings, legislative briefings and educational events; it is important that a representative from our office attends in order to stay up to date on the most recent developments. Lastly, I hold some responsibilities with creating posts for our office’s social media accounts and maintaining parts of the calendar, which is vital to any legislative office given the busy days.

Spring 2017

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Matt Schaefer
Student: Government Sophomore

My internship was at the office of State Representative Matt Schaefer, at the Texas State Capitol. I have worked this internship all of Spring Semester, on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays. Each day I arrive at the Capitol at 8:30 AM. As soon as I get in the office I login to my computer. On the computer, I do much work. Many constituents from Representative Schaefer’s district send emails, which I respectfully reply to. Typically, these people are wanting Representative Schaefer to support certain bills. When these emails come in, I send a detailed response, outlining the Representative’s stance and why he does or does not support the bill. The office is also constantly being swept with phone calls. I answer these calls, and many come from Representative Schaefer’s citizens. They call regarding bills or just to report certain problems in the district that need to be fixed. After answering many phone calls, I go and get the mail for our office. Representative Schaefer typically receives lots mail for his office. Lobbyists will send him invitations for free dinners – we throw those away. Also any of Representative Schaefer’s citizens will write him thank you notes. These are always very kind, and we really appreciate the support. After the mail, the Chief of Staff, usually has me do policy research on bills. This can consist of many tasks. Sometimes I simply read over new legislation, and summarize the main points. Other times, I look for statistics on the internet to either help support or not support certain bills. Policy research is one of my favorite tasks to do as it is very interesting and self-engaging. My coworkers are very helpful at the office. Whenever I am confused on how to do a task, they offer their best insight. They are also very cheerful to visitors who come into our office. Many constituents come on vacation from District Six, to visit with Representative Schaefer. Each day, I leave the Capitol at 12:00 PM. I quickly go to a nearby parking garage and depart to my government course at UT, Supreme Court and Public Policy.

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Ron Simmons
Student: Economics Junior

As an intern at Representative Simmons office at the Texas Capitol, it was my job to help serve both the Representative and all the constituents of Denton County (House District 65). Overall, the internship has been the most educational job I have had the opportunity to learn from in my life. Not only does one learn how the legislative process works, but they learn about all the issues affecting a certain House district in Texas while incorporating the importance of lobbying in the business world, and the influence that laws have on the economy.

The general responsibilities during the 85th Legislative Session (the Texas Legislative Session is then bills turn into laws and occurs once every two years, starting in January) were vast and very valuable. One of the most frequent responsibilities was to listen and respond to constituent phone calls, letters, office visits, and all opinions in general. These viewpoints are the entered into the office correspondence database where vote tallies are possible and appropriate responses are given to the respective constituent. In addition to this, we as interns occasionally meet with organizations, interest groups, and companies which have a certain agenda and would like to pass it onto Representative Simmons. After a short interview, the viewpoints are logged and go towards vote tallies and information storage.

The time worked per week is around 10-15 hours and is unpaid. However, the experience and growth which one gains is truly invaluable (not to mention a possible recommendation letter from the Representative as a perk).

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Rick Miller
Student: History Senior

I was a legislative intern for Texas House Representative Rick Miller.  In this internship I researched bills, drafted briefs, composed emails, answered phone calls and submitted hearing requests to different house committees.   

Each morning when I arrived at the office I prepared letters to take to the post office and I collect the mail from to place in the Representative’s folder for the day.  Once I finish with the mail, I work on the emails in my inbox.  My main duty consists of responding to constituent concerns.  I compose letters from the point of view of the Representative, that explain his position on a myriad of policy issues.  My office lets me choose which specific issues I would like to focus in on whether it be something more general such as education, or something as specific as dyslexia and education.  In addition, it is my job to research and write briefs about issues the Representative has not given a specific stance on yet.   

In addition, I, along with two other staffers in the office, I share the responsibility of answering the phone.  Often times this requires looking up specific bills and providing information to constituents.  Other times it is taking messages for the Representative and the Chief of Staff.  

Another task I took on during the legislative session, was that I took all meetings that pertained to the issues I expressed interest in.  Sometimes I would be accompanied by one other staffer, but the majority of the time I took these meetings on my own.  Additionally, because I liked to take meetings, I volunteered to take all meetings with those who did not make a meeting in advance with our office.

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Pat Fallon
Student: Government Sophomore

When I first get to the office, I check the district inbox for emails from constituents. I log the emails into the computer with software called, Constituent Management System. We log all calls, emails, faxes, and letters from constituents with their contact information (most importantly their address). Then we draft responses based on what the person has written in about. The drafts get edited and approved by others in the office and lastly the representative. Typically we have drafts saved for topics that people bring up often. Though sometimes there is research required to give a good response on the policy the person has written about and the status of the legislation they inquire about. Mostly people write in for support from the representative on topics they care about or seeking to know the representatives stance on a policy. Therefore sometimes there is the challenge of writing a respectful and informative letter but having to be in opposition to their views.

During the day we watch the house floor or various committees live on the television while we work. This way you are not isolated in your office but are still able to keep up with the work being done in other offices around the capital. My coworkers are always nice to discuss what is happening on the floor with and can always answer my questions.

The internship is very administrative task based. I answer phones, write thank you notes, greet visitors (and occasionally take meetings), and file. I will check the mail and run errands around the capital.  Though I am still able to watch and discuss the different things my co-workers will be working on. I work with other interns and we share the tasks around the office so it is very systematic and organized. I have been able to learn more specifically the legislative process and the day-to-day workings of offices at the capitol. 

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Kevin Roberts
Student: Government Junior

I had the incredible opportunity to intern in the Texas House of Representatives during the 85th legislative session in the Spring of 2017. Working for the legislature during session is a fast paced learning experience, that teaches you what really goes on within our State Government. I had a blast through my internship experience, and hope that you can take away from yours, what I did with mine.

As a legislative intern, your hours can range from about 10-20 hours a week, depending on the schedule you've set with your individual office. Personally, I worked around 16 hours a week, split between Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. When in the office, the work would vary depending on what was going on in the House. Consistently, I manage constituent correspondence, speaking with individuals and lobbyists who come in the office, and then various tasks assigned by my Chief of Staff or Legislative Director. Luckily for me, my first task when I arrived in the Office was “Go get some food!”.

Throughout the day, I encounter various situations where I need to discuss or hear about legislation which I’m uniformed with. These experiences have strengthened my ability to think on the fly, and learn quickly. Given that my Chief of Staff and Legislative Director are veterans in the building, I try to watch their actions, to learn as much as I can. This semester has been an incredible chance to learn, and I feel that I've gained a new perspective on the Government of Texas.

If you have the opportunity to intern during session, you wont regret it. My advice to you is to go into every day in the Office ready to grow and learn. This truly is an experience where you’ll gain as much as you give, and if you give it your all everyday, you’ll have an incredible semester. Good luck! 

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Todd Hunter
Student: Government Senior

As an intern at the Texas State Capitol you will need to dress every day in business attire. Men will not be allowed on the House floor if they do not have a suit coat on. You will have a parking pass to a parking garage a block from the Capitol Building. You will need to get your Texas House of Representatives photo ID. This ID will get you into the building and you can skip security checkpoints by scanning it. Should you forget it you will get to be terribly late as school groups, tours, protest and lobbyist groups are constantly forming highly unorganized lines outside all entrances to the Capitol Building. You will get into the building and report to your representative’s office. You will then do any and all possible things to keep the office running; restocking the fridge, cleaning up the conference room, etc. This will free up your to-do list for when there are more important things at hand. You will need to be ready for whatever the day may bring so have a pad and paper handy. Laptops are good too but if you’re in a meeting with a constituent then a pad and paper provide a more personal touch and keep your attention where it needs to be. When sitting in on constituent meetings you will take notes, and look up any necessary information relevant to the proceedings. You will be running from office to office so make sure your shoes are comfortable. On weekdays (Monday-Thursday) lunch will be provided. On Fridays, you are on your own. This internship is what you make of it. Include yourself in as much as possible, constituent meetings, committee hearings, etc. Take notes, know which bills are passing and which aren’t. Get to know other representatives. Introduce yourself to anyone who walks in the door. You never know who you’ll meet and networking can lead you places. Every day will be different, and if you do not include yourself in things your job will be to restock the fridge and nothing more. Don’t be that intern.

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Ina Minjarez
Student: Government Sophomore

A typical day at my internship starts with a walk from UT to the Capitol. The close proximity of the Legislature is one of the most convenient parts about going to school in Austin. After I badge in (another perk of working inside the Capitol -- getting to skip the long security lines), I walk into the office where there’s usually plenty of free food waiting. I then have a brief chat with the Legislative Director and Chief of Staff so that I make sure I am up to speed with everything that has happened that day. I also get project assignments from them to work on.

After meeting with my supervisors, I log onto my computer and check my emails. I usually have plenty of constituent correspondence to take care of, including questions from students about the bills my boss has authored. After that is taken care of, I check with our scheduler to see if we’ve had any literature from concerned citizens and interest groups dropped off. There’s usually a large stack, so I work on scanning all of that material into our office server and make sure we log all of our constituents’ opinions into our system. 

After I take care of the clerical tasks, I work on the bills and committees that i have been assigned. For example, I’ve been working on a cyberbullying bill, David’s Law, with the Chief of Staff. Typical tasks for this include working with the committee office to persuade other members to vote for our bill. Additionally, I work with key stakeholders every step of the way to make sure that our bill is has been thought out for all parties involved. As far as the time commitment goes, I typically spend 15 hrs a week at the Capitol working on bills and helping the office run smoothly. 

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Dan Huberty
Student: Government Senior

Over the past semester I have been privileged to be a legislative intern for the office of State Representative Dan Huberty. This legislative internship has been so insightful to understanding how our state government actually functions. If you have any inkling of interest in politics I would highly recommend becoming a legislative intern. 

Most of the key duties that are given to you are dealing with constituents of the district or area your office represents. When I walk in to the office I immediately go check on the mail, and read the letters that our constituents send us, and write a response to make sure they know their concerns or needs have been heard. Then I move on to the emails and write responses to their concerns and needs, and that is something that you will constantly be doing throughout the whole internship.

After dealing with constituents, the work will be based on the needs of the office. One day you could be crafting bill books, take a meetings, or helping the office understand specific policies and statues. Overall the benefits of being a legislative internship are immense, and the amount of connections that you forge will last you throughout your career. If you have any interest in government, then the capitol awaits you.

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Kevin Roberts
Student: International Relations and Global Studies 

As a Legislative Intern for a Texas representative, I worked in his capitol office located in the North end of the Texas State Capitol. Most days, I would come in, go to my desk, and read my to-do list for the day. Most days, it would include drafting constituent response letters, doing research on certain bills in order to inform constituents of them, conducting casework for individual constituent needs, and sorting through constituent correspondence in both the mail and the district email inbox. While this does not necessarily sound like a busy day, considering the hundreds of emails and letters received by our office, there was always plenty of work for me to do. Sometimes I was tasked with delivering things to other offices or picking up deliveries from the representatives committee or other pertinent meetings. Most of the time this just meant I was wandering around and getting utterly lost in the halls of the capitol. 

The best days were days when I could take meetings with constituents, lobbyists, or organizations coming to the capitol to have their positions listened to and noted. Acting as a proxy for the representative, a majority of the time in these meetings was spent by me listening and jotting down notes while trying not to put in my own two cents or ideas about what matter was the pertinent issue of the day. Some visitors would talk non-stop about every issue imaginable, while others came in and briskly stated their or their organizations’ position, asked if I had any questions, and went on with their day. These meetings showed me the diversity of the constituency of the representative’s district, as well as the differing beliefs, needs, and opinions of different organizations and people who all realize the importance of being active citizens. While these meeting contributed to the knowledge I gained through this internship, asking questions to the Chief of Staff, Legislative Director, and Legislative Assistant who I worked alongside with in the office strengthened my understanding of day to day happenings and the ins and outs of legislation. 

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Jarvis Johnson
Student: Government Junior

A legislative internship at the office of State Representative Jarvis Johnson is well worth pursuing. While the job can feel tedious at times, it is also incredibly interesting and rewarding. Every day, you are surrounded by others who are passionate about public policy. Work schedules, typically consisting of around 14 hours a week, are developed around your class schedule. My work schedule was from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. It is very important to consistently arrive on time and be reasonably well-rested. Commitment and enthusiasm are highly valued.

Working with several other interns, you will be assigned a desk in one of two areas. One is in the back, where all of the bill folders are. While at this desk, you will likely be working on bill research, as well as organizing files, sometimes making duplicate copies for multiple files. These files are then used for reference while conducting research. If you are assigned to work at the front desk, added to your bill research will be the duties of making and answering phone calls. I frequently received phone calls from people such as constituents, interest groups, or other offices. You will also be asked to perform various other tasks, such as delivering letters to other offices at the capitol.

Your main responsibility, however, will be to research and analyze bills that Representative Johnson is trying to get passed. After reviewing several thick packets of information about a bill, you will compose a “talking points” sheet containing persuasive arguments in support of the bill. You will then put together a “one-pager” that contains basic information regarding the bill. These sheets are then used by Representative Johnson when promoting bills. All of these tasks allow you to gain valuable real-world experience in government and make an important contribution to Representative Johnson’s office during the legislative session.

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Paul Workman
Student: History and Philosophy Junior

I start my day around 8:30 with a cup of coffee. While I’m drinking my coffee, I usually read as many relevant articles from the Austin-American Statesman or the Texas Tribune as It is expected that I am well informed about Texas politics and current events for my job.

For the next task I prepare the daily floor report. There are thousands of pieces of legislation and it would be impossible for the Representative I work for to read and think about every bill. Before the daily session begins, I and the legislative director compile our prior research, interest group recommendations, constituent opinions and caucus recommendations about every bill that will be on the floor of the House that day. We have a special computer application to where we link our analysis, PDF documents from interest groups and constituent opinions to the bill text. The Representative can see all of this information from his computer on the House floor so he could make an informed vote on the bill in question. 

After I work on the floor report, I usually respond to as many constituent emails as possible.  Usually constituents, email and mail in support or opposition to many different pieces of legislation. In my responses to constituents, I tell them the current status of the legislation they support or oppose and I make an issue point of the policy behind the legislation. In a given day, I usually write about 20 letters to constituents.        

After writing letters and before leaving, I research and analyze pending legislation. For this, I read through the applicable statues that the bill changes and policy informationals that are provided by interest groups. I also, research some of the arcane terminology within the bill and summarize it in layman’s terms so the office can understand it. Most importantly, I use this research for floor reports for days when the bill is presented on the House floor.  

Spring 2016 

Position: Intern, Representative Ryan Guillen
Student: Economics Junior

I work at the office of Texas State Representative Ryan Guillen. Typically, my day starts between the hours of 8 and 9. Usually, I go two stories below ground level to the Committee of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism office because my boss is the chair of the committee. There is a second office upstairs that is the main office, and the interns are divided into two groups, one that goes upstairs and one that goes downstairs. The legislative director, Sarah Chacko, and the administrative director, Jonathan Wilson, choose the interns they wish to work for them. Those with Jonathan go downstairs where they will work mainly on social media, while those with Sarah will work on legislation and research. Usually, those like myself that sign up to work more days a week will be chosen by Jonathan, regardless of your preferences.

Every morning I arrive at work between 8 and 9. Usually I am the first person there, as the regular staff do not get there until around 10. Since I do not have the key to the office I have to wait outside the door and call the Capitol DPS and wait for them to unlock the door. I then spend the remainder of my day doing an assortment of activities such as looking through newspapers for people that have passed away and contacting their families. I also look through district news for stories to put on the Facebook page while answering the occasional phone call. 

Position: Intern, Representative Dustin Burrows
Student: International Relations and Global Studies Sophomore

I am a Legislative Intern with Representative Dustin Burrows at the Texas State Capitol. Dustin Burrows is a Texas State Representative from District 83 which is the Lubbock area. I work every day Monday-Friday, and I work 12 hours a week. At the capitol, there is no typical day. I do all kinds of tasks around the office. I do some administrative tasks like take phone calls and input contact information into the system. I also sit in meetings with some lobby groups and take notes and ask questions during the meetings. The main task I do is read filed legislation. I read and analyze the filed bills and then I write summaries and provide analysis for the representative. It requires well developed reading comprehension skills and writing skills. Communication is also extremely important because I am often required to speak with constituents and other groups which come to see the representative.

One of my favorite roles as an intern is that I get to attend different receptions and events with the other staff members. Many different groups come to the capitol to lobby. Each interest group wants to bring light to their issue and share their information, so they host events for representatives and staffers. I often attend these events to keep myself informed and better analyze bills. Therefore, no day is the same at the capitol. The session goes by extremely fast and each part of the session required me to complete different duties. At the beginning, I mostly did administrative tasks. Then throughout the second 2 months I spoke a lot with constituents and different lobbyists. Now, I mostly read bills and stay up to date with the amendments added. There are many different bills going through the legislative process, so I must keep up with what is being read in committee and what the representative will be required to vote on. Therefore, lately the majority of my work has been reading, summarizing, and analyzing bills. 

Spring 2015

Position: Intern, Representative Joe Moody
Student: Government Junior

A day in government can be extremely boring, or extremely exciting. I have had the opportunity to experience both of these sides while interning at the office of State Representative Joe Moody at the Texas State Capitol. Through the fun days and the bad, I feel like my internship was one of the most unique experiences of my life. I would love to describe a day in the life, but quite honestly, every day is different. As such, being able to convey my time there may be an arduous task.

My day begins at roughly 10 AM, where I walk into the office and evaluate what the day seeks to bring. On certain occasions, the office is more lively than usual. These occasions include when a bill of ours is going up for a vote in committee or in the house, or for special occasions such as “El Paso Days” as with my office. Those special days mean talking to a lot of important people such as lobbyists, constituents and other staffers. These days, more than anything, are crucial when it comes to professional networking. I make sure my tie is tied nice, my suit isn’t wrinkly and I have my elevator speech prepared for when the moment calls for it.

On days where these special occasions don’t occur, I am essentially helping in keeping the ship that is the office afloat. This means checking the mail and making sure constituent letters get filed in their appropriate location and are reviewed for a reply, archiving emails on our electronic database, researching topics relating to legislation that will be discussed, and much more. I could write an entire book on everything that occurs throughout one normal workday at the office. A lot of the work pays off when you see your boss discuss bills that you put a lot of work into or when you begin getting assigned bigger and more important tasks. It’s also a great day whenever there’s lunch in the office. All in all, my days in the office are hectic but well worth all that I’ve learned.

Position: Administrative Intern, Representative Joe Straus
Major: Economics/Sophomore

Anyone that has lived in Austin has seen the Texas State Capitol. It is an unbelievable architectural relic that stands in the middle of one of the greatest cities in Texas. A year ago I interviewed there and was struck by the thought of how cool it would be to go to work there every day, and I was not disappointed when I spent a year doing just that. As an intern in the Speaker’s office, I learned a lot in a very special place working for very powerful people. The pros of the job are numerous, but it is not for everyone, and I will try to explain why.

There are many offices in the Capitol, but, other than maybe the Governor’s, none is more impressive than the Speaker’s. The Speaker’s offices are in the west wing of the Capitol. Located just west of the House gallery, the Speaker’s offices have giant windows, 2 story high ceilings, and all around unbelievable appearances. Also, the Speaker attracts the best employees in the Capitol. As an administrative intern, I worked under the Director of Administration and the Constituent Relations Director for the Speaker.

Most of my day to day duties consisted of data entry and answering phones, especially when things got busy, but that is how all internships are. The cool thing about the Speaker’s office job is that I was doing those duties in the middle of some of the most powerful legislators in the country. I greeted the Governor for his breakfast with the Speaker every Wednesday. I led Representatives, Senators, and their spouses on tours of the Capitol dome once or twice a week. And I spoke to the Speaker regularly. This internship is not as policy oriented as an internship in a smaller office might be, but the Speaker’s office handles issues from all over the political landscape and all over the state, which makes it a very interesting place to work.

Spring 2014 

Position: Intern, Representative Ryan Guillen
Student: Sociology Junior

My internship is located in the heart of downtown Austin. The location is perfectly in between downtown and UT. If you haven’t figured out the location already, it is the Texas State Capitol. A landmark of Texas and where the Texas Government resides. My job title is as an unpaid intern. I work with about ten other interns. Most of the interns there are either in college or have just graduated from college.

I normally go into work at around 8 A.M by walking from west campus to the Capitol. It’s about a 15-20 minute walk, but worth it most days to see the sunrise on downtown Austin. The best part about going to work would have to be the badge all employees of the Capitol receive. Reason being because while the entire tourist wait at the security checkpoint for minutes, I just swipe my card against the machine, which takes five seconds max. Pretty cool feeling every time I swipe my card. I take the elevator to the fourth floor since what is where my office is located. When I get to the office everyone welcomes you and you being work at your computer desk. Now for the next four to six hours I will be working on projects assigned to me by my supervisor.

My supervisor and I have a relationship like an apprenticeship. Literally, all of my tasks and assignments are emulated off this person since they have offered me so much help. If I ever have a question he does not hesitant to help me, now that is a great person. Some of these tasks include social media, legislative work, and bill proposals, going to USPS store, or even going to important meetings in downtown Austin at really nice hotels like The Hilton. While working, I also get the chance to interact with my co-workers and it is a nice way of networking and building relationships. Work will normally end at around 1 or 2 in the afternoon on which I say my goodbyes and make my back to campus. While on my walk back to campus I will reflect on what I learned and take all the positives to make sure I look forward to heading into work the next day.

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Abel Herrero
Student: Government Junior

Working as a Legislative Intern in the Capitol requires highly motivated and energetic students who are eager to serve the public. Each day will vary, but generally responsibilities will include assisting with daily office operations, communicating with constituents regarding district issues, and casework. The best part about this internship site was the variety and abundance of political opportunity and resources that an intern will be exposed to. From committee hearings to department presentations, each day is full of a wide variety legislative issues that can be of interest to almost anyone involved in politics. An important thing to remember is that experiences in the Capitol vary widely due to the differences of the interim period and the legislative session. However, although work during the interim period is not as time consuming, the work done in preparation for session is just as important as what is done during session.

Most of my duties were tailored towards criminal jurisprudence, since my supervisor was the clerk of the committee. Policy projects that I researched included my own interests, but many also were on various topics in criminal justice. I spent about three days in the office for about 4 hours a day, which was just enough time to get in research, handle office phone calls and constituents, and attend a few presentations and hearings around the Capitol. Occasionally I committed weekend time or dinner times for conventions or social hours, where I was able to network with politically involved professionals outside my office. These experiences were some of the most important and poignant during my time working in the office, and I recommend that other interns take advantage of the expansive network provided to them when working in government. Through hard work and commitment, gaining experience during the interim period will make an intern an asset to an office during the legislative session. 

Fall 2014 

Position: Intern, Representative Armando Martinez
Student: Government Junior

I interned in the office of State Representative Armando Martinez. There was no typical day while working there. There was something new to do about every week. I would go to the office and work on what I was working on the previous day until it was finished. Working this internship, I was required to be given an ID that gave me access to the Capitol. It was a great feeling of responsibility getting to through the security door instead of the metal door.

When I got to the office I would always ask my supervisor if there was anything he specifically wanted me to work on that day. This could range from researching potential legislation to putting in business cards to our system. I would greet people as they walked in and answer the phone. There were a variety of tasks to be done and I would do as I was asked.

Part of the internship was learning about the various aspects of governing at the state level and how they worked together. I would ask questions and they were welcomed whenever. By asking questions you can gain more from the internship that just experience. I would be able to both earn real world experience and gain the knowledge of asking questions from someone with first hand experience. Having this experience is great for anyone that wants to go into politics. 

Spring 2013 

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative James White
Student: Government Senior

I interned for State Representative James White of District 19 at his Texas State Capitol office in Austin. I started in late January and finished in early May. Representative White has represented East Texas since 2011. It was an honor and a privilege to intern for a man that I admire politically. Rep. White is the Vice Chairman of Corrections and a member of Agriculture and Livestock committees. He is one of the few African Americans currently in the Texas House of Representatives.

The most rewarding part of working for Rep. White was the ability to directly interact with constituents and lobbyist on a daily basis. As an intern, I was the first person that constituents interacted with when they came into the office. It was important that I welcomed them with open-arms and a positive attitude. It was important that I understood that I was an extension of Rep. White. Being respectful to constituents was critical. I needed to leave a good impression of not only myself, but Rep. White.

Interacting with constituents wasn’t the only job I did. I also was entrusted with “grunt” work. This is the type of work that none of the staffers want to do. Things like filing constituent opinions or responding to constituent letters was my responsibility. In addition, I worked with other interns on projects ranging from looking over newspapers to find obituaries or checking the mail. This type of work wasn’t glamorous, but it was rewarding to know that I was able to levy the burden on the hard-working staffers. There was very little deviation from this on a daily basis. The repetitiveness of these tasks really took a toll on me. It was boring, and sometimes unnecessary. However, I reminded myself that I don’t make the rules.

Spring 2013 

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Sergio Muñoz Jr.
Student: English Senior

Firstly, I believe that it is important for me to mention that this internship provides such a unique experience for young students, like myself, with interests in government, politics, and law and I recommend that anyone with interests in at least one of these three subjects should consider and internship at the Texas State Capital. To begin, as a staff member of a Texas State Representative and an employee of the Texas State Capita,l you are granted many responsibilities as well as a plentiful amount of duties that you must fulfill and through these responsibilities and duties you learn so much about legislative process as well as specific issues like transportation, abortion, etc. As a legislative intern your duties are dictated to you by the Chief of Staff of whoever you work for, whether it be a Senator, a Representative, or even the Governor. It is important that you become accustomed to the work ethic and personality of your Chief of Staff because that will be a very good identifier as to how exactly you should go about completing your assignments. Every office has a different environment that takes getting used to and it's your job to adapt. You must always be ready to answer the phones from the minute you walk into your office, as well as be prepared for visitors who come to either give information or ask about information. This is where good communication skills come into play. You must also know how to use the computer and office machinery because you are mainly going to be doing your work with them. The assignments can vary, writing memos, giving tours of the Capital, doing research on a Bill that has already passed or for a bill that your representative wants to pass, attending meetings over specific subject matter like education, etc. It is important that you realize that your job is to aid the office and that your duties are vast. There is no particular order to your day. You should work on a completion schedule. You must learn to be efficient with your time and complete the tasks as your supervisor assigns them to you unless otherwise advised. 

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Hubert Vo
Student: Government Junior

As a legislative intern, you will have many responsibilities both inside and outside the office of the Legislator you represent. Within the office, your responsibilities will include writing constituent letters, filing bills, conducting bill research, and compiling comprehensive data files for specific purposes as assigned by your supervisor. Outside of the office, you will have the opportunity to attend committee hearings and take notes on behalf of the Legislator. Additionally, you will get to schedule your own meetings with various lobbyists who want to explain and push their respective agendas to your representative.  Overall, the position requires strong communication and writing skills, the ability to work in a team setting, and self-starting independence. Most importantly, this internship demands a strong desire to learn the legislative process through hands-on experience.

To describe a typical day as an intern, the first thing to do is plan out at least 5-6 hours a day of work, 3-4 times a week. This is a part-time job, so expect to get projects and assignments that will definitely occupy the full time you are there. Additionally, given the vast nature of the Legislature, it is important to stay up to date with bills being heard in the House and Senate, as well as any other “hot news”. The best way this is done is just by keeping frequent track of your e-mail, where most of this news is circulated. As one of your assigned tasks, scheduling in these important events or news serves as a way for you to communicate to the rest of the staff that you have acknowledged what is going on and have followed through with it. Lastly, your day will never consist of just one activity. Your activities will usually span from writing bill memos to having multiple conversations with lobbyists on the House floor.

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Hubert Vo
Student: History/Asian American Studies Junior

The title of my position was a legislative intern during the 83rd legislative session. The statement that I kept hearing over and over at the very beginning of the internship was that things were going to get very busy around here. Surely, enough when late February rolled around, the lobbyist kept entering the office and the constituents kept calling and writing in letters every time a new amendment was being passed. In one week we got more than one hundred letters from constituents regarding various bills. I’ve come to learn that it is good to have generic letter for a certain bills or issues that way you don’t have to keep rewriting the letters.  Some of my main responses were: answering phone calls and greeting visitors, checking mail/ email for important information, drafting letters and email response to constituents on legislative topics, meeting with constituents, advocacy groups, and other staff on legislative topics. And lastly, draft legislative documents, such as bill analysis, press releases, and talking points.

At the very beginning I would always come into the office and ask what my assignment for the day was, and then I developed this habit to just automatically do find things to do such as checking constituent letters, email, and mail before seeking the legislative aide for other projects. One may think that the handling constituent letters is an easy process but it is very tedious. Firstly, you have to know how to use CMS (Constituent Management System) in which I had to take a 2 hour course in at the very beginning of the internship. Once we receive the letter, we have to read it and then enter CMS, this includes their personal info and why they are contacting us. Once this is completed I would draft a letter for the constituent, this step sometimes involves research, if I am not familiar with the bill. There is a website to go to track bills, see what they are about and where they are currently standing. After researching the bill, I finally started to write a draft.  Furthermore, it is important to ask question, stay positive, and behave professionally in the office because you never know who might just walk in.

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Sergio Muñoz Jr.
Student: Government Senior

Interning for Representative Muñoz Jr. at the Texas House of Representatives has been a life changing experience. Throughout the internship I have developed better communication and interpersonal skills among many others. My education and appreciation of the Texas legislature has grown exponentially. I have come to admire all lawmakers no matter what side of the political spectrum they identify with.  Coming into the office every morning presented itself with various tasks and required strict discipline. Although working in a bureaucracy can be stressful, it was well worth the time spent.

My position is legislative aide and my responsibilities consisted of: keeping the representative out of trouble, making sure he was always prepared, and keeping him updated on legislation. The first assignment of each day was getting the mail and checking my capitol email to see what was happening that day.  Typically the Chief of Staff will give out assignment on a case by case basis. Assignments can vary from typing out constituents letters and mailing them to attending a committee meeting. Every meeting you attend requires a memo; this is the standard for the office. During my internship I have created a newsletter every week for media outlets, delivered boxes of grapefruit to every office in the capitol, filed legal documents such as bills, resolutions, and amendments daily. Keeping up with legislation was a daily responsibility and I would update over a hundred bills along with make bill analysis for the representative.

In most cases the work was done within the office but on occasion required us to attend events outside of our internship. Work done outside of the internship consisted of attending receptions and hand delivering or retrieving messages. This aspect was very sociable and developed specifically my interpersonal skills. In short working in a bureaucracy is a stressful environment and receptions allow for representatives and in general offices to unwind in a nonpolitical environment.

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Joe Moody
Student: Philosophy Sophomore

If you are looking for an internship nearby which is inclusive of the legislative agenda, the Texas State Capitol is an obvious choice. It is a competitive place even for interns and students since you are competing with others throughout Texas, not only students of the Forty Acres. Do not let that discourage you.

Interning at the State Capitol is a sharpening experience the people or office you intern with already know you are not the sharpest tool out there but when they see an ambitious attitude they are willing to find it a home. My personal experience with this internship has included a lot of self-discovery and realization. It is the first time I have been in legislative work so the “newness” of this sprung up questions of my personal career goals. Aside self-awareness this internship has helped me better my general clerical skills, networking approaches, and knowing how to balance school and work.

That last point is very important; the Capitol is a vast pool of knowledge and action. It is important to know of constant changes but it can easily become overwhelming. Different interns have different approaches on how they will manage between school and the internship season. I know of people who set aside a semester of school throughout session dates, especially those who attend universities outside of the city. Some take online or extension classes. Others have the opportunity to join programs which offer stipends in addition to course credit. Personally, I am lucky to have the Texas Capitol as our school’s front yard; I simply walk between my internship site and class. This has given me the opportunity to explore the building before heading to class. It is very easy to lose ones way at the capitol but with exploring frequently, it is easy to learn.

It is important not to be overwhelmed nor overly shy. In a sea full of faces it feels great seeing a familiar one. Learn how to make friends in a conservative manner and also be ready to extend help to others and you will make great and worthy connections during your internship at the beautiful Texas State Capitol. 

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Eddie Lucio III
Student: History Senior

A typical day as a legislative intern for Texas State Representative Eddie Lucio III involves a wide range of tasks. Because the committees Representative Lucio serves on convene at around 8 am, I usually have to arrive at the office at around 7:30 am in order to attend our daily staff meetings where all the staffers in the office huddle around the conference table in Representative Lucio’s office to go over the day’s agenda. If I needed the Representative to sign a “Joint Author” form, or “Co-Author” form, or if I needed to update the Representative on an assignment he needed me to look in to, I would do it at this time.

After our daily staff meeting I immediately begin working on the “bill books” for the bills that are scheduled to be heard in the upcoming week. A “bill book” is a compilation of assorted documents that help the Representative present a bill of his before committee. It usually consists of: A “legislative background” which explains whether similar bills had been passed in other state legislatures, a “Frequently Asked Questions” section, a “Bill Analysis” which explains the implications and details of a bill, and “Talking Points” for the Representative as he lays out the bill.

As I attempt to complete my bill books, which is your main responsibility as a Legislative Intern, I inevitably end up doing various administrative tasks like: ordering lunch for the office, preparing documents to be filled with various house committees, answering the phone, and responding to constituent issues.

Because Representative Lucio filed a little over 70 bills this legislative session, my internship has pretty consistently followed this pattern of attempting to complete assorted bill books while juggling additional administrative tasks. Although the workday technically ends at 5:30 pm, I am usually in the office till around 7:30 pm or 8:00 pm. Many times this is because committee hearings take much longer than anticipated, or because the Representative gives a surprise assignment to me. 

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Joe Straus
Student: International Relations and Global Studies Senior

I am a Legislative Intern in the executive office of Speaker Joe Straus. I have worked for the Texas House of Representatives for two academic years. One year for a State Representative, one semester in the administration office of the Speaker and the past semester in the executive office of the Speaker for the 83rd Legislative Session. In the executive office I work daily with the Speaker's staff, constituents, lobbyists, and members of the House and Senate. Primarily, I manage the Speaker's relations with these people who call or visit the office. I assist his Executive Assistant in the Speaker's scheduling and handling of his correspondence. Tasks often include making phone calls on behalf of the Speaker and organizing meetings, speaking events, and RSVP'ing or declining invitations. I correspond with other staff members on his behalf as well in managing administration duties. In addition, I assist the Speaker's Policy Advisors in monitoring the House Committee on Special Purpose Districts. I attend the committee hearings and take notes on how the bills are being received by the members of the committee, if the bill gets moved out of committee, and on the testimonies that take place. Afterwards I meet with the Policy Advisor I assist, brief him on the hearing and then submit my notes to the Legislative Management System. For my committee I attend weekly seminars where I listen to land developers and attorneys primarily speak about the purpose of Special Purpose Districts while learning about how their creation impacts constituents and legislators. Furthermore, I spend a lot of time watching the bill debates on the House Floor, observing other committee hearings, and attending legislative networking events. The internship, particularly during the legislative session, is a great opportunity to broaden your understanding of the legislative process, meet many professionals across all spectrums of the legislature, and widen your professional skill set.

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Allan Ritter
Student: Plan II Senior

A legislative intern works at the Texas Capitol assisting the representative and his or her staff.   Senators and Representatives are charged with representing citizens from their district and crafting laws to aid in the betterment of society.  It is the job of legislative intern to assist in this process in any way they can.

On a normal day, I show up at 11 o’clock.  While waiting for my first assignment, I log onto the computer, grab a snack from the refrigerator, read through my emails, browse the Texas Tribune website, answer the phone, and watch the House debates on television.  Around noon, a lobbyist pays for our meal, which all of the staff gets to eat.  My usual assignment consists of writing letters to the constituents who have emailed or sent letters regarding their views on certain bills.  To compose these letters, I find a similar email from the archive of constituent letters and change the details to fit the constituent’s concerns by looking up facts about the legislation they mentioned online.  I log their information and viewpoints into the online Content Management Software.   I finish these letters by 1:30, and email my drafted letters to my office manager.  Around 2 o’clock, my manager will approve the letters and I will print the responses, input in the reply message into the software system, and take them to the mailroom.  After 2 o’clock, I look up articles in the news related to current legislation and save them to our global archive system, so that the representative is aware of the public’s opinion on the bills he is pushing.  As my representative is at the vanguard of much of the water legislation, there are many articles to find.  I leave my shift at 5 o’clock and catch the bus back to campus. 

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Todd Hunter
Student: Rhetoric & Writing Junior

In a typical day at a legislator’s office during session, there are many duties to be completed and shoes to be filled. The chief of staff and his or her legislative aids typically handle the heavy lifting of constituent casework and communicating/negotiating with the other offices about bills. However, the volume of casework and paperwork can quickly become overwhelming, which is where you, the intern, come in.     

The intern more or less seems present to help facilitate the process of keeping in contact with constituents, representing the legislator at events, and preparing legislation to be sent off to their proper committees. This includes, but is not limited to: preparing bill packets, attending committee hearings and meetings, responding to constituent casework, communicating with lobbyists, writing recommendation letters, making copies, filing paperwork, and general office organization.

These are the basic tasks typically asked of an intern – but in order to successfully do this, we must have familiarity with the legislative process, understand the sectors of the legislature and how it all works together, getting to know all the faces of representatives and senators, familiarizing yourself with the most important bills, and being familiar with the organizations and officials that work most closely with your particular legislator. The intern can do this by building relationships with those who frequent the office, attending Capitol social events, and following legislative news from sources like The Texas Tribune – very helpful indeed.

Summer 2012 

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Harvey Hilderbran
Student: Sociology Junior

Working in the representative’s office brings all kinds of variety to my work experience.  Everyday has the potential to be different from the last, and there wasn’t really any rhyme or reason to it.  But if I had to sum up the average day into writing, it would start out by getting to work around 12:30.  I always check my emails first thing when I arrive, then most days I walk to underground extension to check our mailbox.  Once back in the office, I ask both Debbie and Isaac if there is anything that I need to start working on, or if there is anything I could do for them.  Most of the time there will be some type of phone call to make, constituent emails or letters to respond to or research, or sometimes some other office work like data entry, filing, and doing legislative clippings.  While in the office I always answer the telephone.  Some days there will be enough to do that it will take up the majority of my afternoon, but on days that are really slow, I always read the Texas Tribune, The Austin Statesmen, or The Drudge Report.  When I get my fill of the daily news, I normally do some research on whatever issue I am looking into at the time.

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Ryan Guillen
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 2012 

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative John V. Garza
Student: Spanish Junior

For my internship this semester, I worked in the Texas State Capitol in the office of Representative John V. Garza. As in intern at the office, I worked primarily in the media department, but I also did legislative work just to gain experience in that department as well. Within the media department, I would translate press releases and other media projects to help reach out to more constituents. This was a big responsibility because they were documents that went out to the pubic, so I had no room for error. Although the pressure was scary, it turned out to give me great satisfaction after I completed the project and know I did a good job.

Along with the media projects I translated from English to Spanish, I also did legislative work to help alleviate the workload of my co-workers. I would work with constituents via email, or phone, and try to help solve their problems in any way I could help them. Working with constituents is also gratifying when you can help deal with issues that involve our districts policies. Whenever I was not helping constituents, I would do other legislative projects such as HRO reports, which are political perspective reports that speak about recent political issues. I would summarize the issues so that Representative John Garza could get a prompt report on important issues.

These projects are what I did in a typical day. I was given other important projects here and there, but these are the main things my internship consisted of. I had a wonderful time at the Capitol and would recommend and internship in the Capitol to any student.

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Dawnna Dukes 
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.

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Dawnna Dukes 
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. 

Fall 2012

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Armando Martinez
Student: Economics Senior

I interned at the Texas Capitol with the office of Representative Armando Martinez during the Summer and Fall of 2012. My internship at the Capitol was a result of my journey of career exploration. As a student of Economics and International Relations, I wanted to get a better feel for the legislative process and the overall political environment in Texas. I interned three times a week for a total of ten and a half hours. Like most other internships at the Capitol, this one was unpaid, which is a little disappointing for most college students, but ended up working in favor for me because it resulted in a more flexible schedule.

My responsibilities included helping my chief of staff with constituent work, conducting policy research and drafting legislation for the upcoming 83rd legislative session, attending briefings, luncheons, and hearings and writing reports for my supervisor, answering phone calls, checking the mail, and greeting visitors at the office. One of the most exciting things about my internship was that  I had the possibility to network and meet many individuals from the capitol and lobbyists. Being a fluent Spanish speaker, I was able to do some translation work, which was exciting for me.

The skills I learned and practiced at my internship were of tremendous value to me. I would say that I came out of my internship with not only a better understanding of how the legislative process works and what a day in the life of a legislative employee looks like, but also having grown as a professional and as an individual. I learned about public policy and practiced hard skills such as research and writing, but also had an opportunity to develop soft skills such as time management, networking, and professionalism.

The individuals I worked with, including my Chief of Staff, were wonderful. One of the things to keep in mind when seeking an internship at the Texas Capitol is that not all offices are the same. My best advice would be to take the interview process as an opportunity to showcase yourself, but also as an opportunity to meet staffers at the office and get a general feel of what working at a particular office is like. 

Spring 2011

Position: State Offices and Committee Assistant, Representative Rene Oliveira
Student: Philosophy/Psychology Senior

A “Day in the Life” of my job as a legislative/policy assistant for State Representative Rene Oliveira encompasses many different aspects involved in the Legislative Session. These tasks and responsibilities would include: drafting and editing bills and analysis, writing correspondence letters, coordinating constituent meetings, organizing schedules, and fulfilling any secretarial duties necessary for my supervisor and boss. As an assistant it is important to remember that you are there to be professional, helpful, and efficient. This maintains that one has to be creative, on call, and prompt.

What does it take to become an intern at the House of Representatives? If a student really wants to intern with a state representative, the qualifications and requirements are vary often from office to office. So as a general principle, students should call the representative’s office and talk to the staffers in charge of internships. They will outline and detail what they need to determine whether you would be a good fit for the office. Although, they will usually ask for a cover letter, resume and interview.

What does an internship at the Texas House of Representatives entail? It trains students and interns in first, understanding the process of legislation. How does a bill pass into law, what does the majority vote entail, what does it take to win other representatives’ support for your bill? These are all questions that interns learn the answer for. After this education- that realistically happens throughout the intern’s whole experience- the application of that knowledge to real things that will be used in the representative’s office, whether it is for the state or the home district. The internship aims to breed three fundamental characteristics in the intern: initiative, competence, and strong speaking and writing skills. These are all qualities and skills that will further the intern’s experience at the internship and in other jobs or internships afterward.

Position: Capitol Legislative Intern, Representative Jerry Madden
Student: Sociology Junior

I interned at the Texas State Capitol in the House of Representatives this semester. Specifically, I worked for Representative Madden, his legislative aide, and his head of corrections. For the most part, I conversed with his legislative aide, Mark, and his head of corrections, Marsha. There were ten interns including myself, but at the very most there were four in the office at one time.

We were told before we made our final schedules that we can work as much as we can, and that the more we put into it, the more we would get out of it. I made my schedule as available as possible and consequently worked every Monday and Friday 10-5. The other interns work schedules ranged from 3 hours a week to 25 hours a week. I definitely put in as much time as I could handle while being a full time student. The work atmosphere at the capitol is very business-like. Everyone dresses in business casual attire and speaks formally to one another.

A typical work day for me can be described as waking up between eight and eight thirty, and leaving the house by 9:30. I park in the state personnel parking garage and walk about two to three blocks to the capitol depending on which garage I park in. When I enter the office, I log into my state account, checking my emails and the schedule for the day. I usually begin my work day with emails forwarded to me from Mark from concerned constituents. I reply to all the emails by telling them what the Representative’s stance is on the matter and where the bill is in legislation, and then see what else is going on in the office. There could be mail that needs to be opened which could involve filing or putting events in the calendar. We receive an ample amount of invitations to various things from free lunch presented by a certain lobbyist group, private events that only members are invited to, and several letters from the public supporting or opposing different bills being heard in committee. If there is no mail to tend to I ask if the other interns need any help with their tasks.

Really, you simply do whatever Mark and Marsha ask of you. It could be anything from running a bill down to the clerks to be filed, copying papers, going to committee hearings and taking notes, speaking to a lobbyist, or going to get lunch for the office. Also throughout the day, a large part of what we do is answer phone calls. The phone is always ringing; most cases it is people trying to get in touch with the Representative, Mark, Marsha, or it is constituents calling to put in their thoughts on a certain bill.

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Gary Elkins
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.

Position: Capitol Legislative Intern, Representative Ryan Guillen
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.

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Todd Hunter
Student: History Sophomore

As a legislative intern in Representative Todd Hunter’s office, I learned the interworking of the state law making process, while gaining first hand knowledge of governmental work. I was uniquely positioned as the youngest person in the office, so I had a different perspective on the daily operations. I was relatively unexposed to policy making, and office dynamics in general.

Working in the main office, I answered phones, greeted guests in the office, picked up the mail, and wrote correspondence to constituents. My work here was more social and light-hearted, and I was working with less paper work and more people. This job is great for anyone who enjoys working with people, chatting to people in all types of occupational positions, and working with computer programs. There is a little more down time and flexibility in the main office, yet the ebb and flow is more unpredictable than my current position.

Working in the main office for a representative or senator is a great transition into work at the capitol. You really get the best of both worlds, in that you are talking with a constant stream of visitors, yet you are given purpose driven tasks that have to be completed in a timely fashion on a daily basis. As the session progressed, I was transferred into the Calendars Committee Office, which Representative Hunter chairs. Here, the nature of my work changed from my previous tasks in the main office. Since our office controls how and when each bill will be seen on the house floor, our work in the committee office is much more tedious, and requires a more meticulous and detail-oriented hand. I also help to keep track of each bill and match it with its corresponding date of introduction. This is extremely important, and an oversight or miscommunication in this area would result in a point of order, which would delay to dealings of the whole house. Checking each bill daily for fiscal notes, I must make note of the stipulations and then properly order the bills according to their number. Keeping track of the bill number also requires a keen eye and a mind well versed in numerical organization. Perhaps the most challenging task of my job in the committee office is dealing with an unrelenting stream of lobbyists. 

Fall 2011

Student: Legislative Research Intern, Representative Sylvester Turner
Position: Government Junior

My current internship experience for the fall semester was spent working as a Legislative Researcher with State Representative Sylvester Turner’s office who represents District 139 out of Houston, Texas which is located in Harris County, Texas. During the past 16 weeks I worked 10-12 hrs. per week mainly researching several pieces of legislation which were passed during the 82nd Texas Legislature which ended its session on June 30, 2011.

My main responsibilities were to make sure each bill which was passed and signed by Governor Rick Perry and became law on January 1, 2011 were researched and rewritten into simple language in order that the average person who votes would understand what exactly the bill passed would accomplish or what its main focus was or intent for the State of Texas. I spent a lot of time researching various bills such as the Pay Day Loan bill and educational bills which passed that would affect students directly whether it be k- through 12th grades or educational bills which directly affected current educational issues debated in Higher Education. I also attended several committee meetings on various bills which were passed this past session in which Commissioners and State Dept. Agency heads would give oral and written testimony on how specific policies and procedures were going to be carried out in their particular agency by each bill passed into law pertaining to their particular agency of State Govt. EX: T.E.A., Texas Department Human Services.

I enjoyed very much interning as a legislative researcher intern. I was able to put into practice everything that I learned in my public policy course and other Government courses which I completed as Govt. is my major field of study with a minor in Information Studies. I also was able to learn about and gain a more practical understanding about how state Government and elected State officials work with each other between various agencies to ultimately accomplish their goals for the people whom they represent for the State of Texas. If your major is Govt. I would highly recommend that you pursue internship opportunities with the Texas Legislature or with the Office of The Governor for the state of Texas.

Spring 2010 

Position: Capitol Legislative Intern, Representative Mark Shelton
Student: Government Senior

While interning with Representative Mark Shelton at Texas Capitol my duties include office organization, scheduling, and legislation research. Representative Shelton is a member of the House Public Education and his office was assigned interim charges. These charges were my main responsibility, working on our Public Education research. My internship coordinator has taken every opportunity to further introduce me to the structure of the capitol, ranging from their process of proofing bills to the Capitol supply store. Through this experience I have gained much knowledge about the governmental system and the society it thrives in.

A Day in the Life at my Internship: I arrive at the office and check voicemail and my own email. If there are no pressing issues I begin working on pulling the clips (articles from Texas newspapers that affect our office and constituents and any other relevant news). After finishing the clips I check in the Chief of Staff for any pressing assignments he might have. These may include a constituent case, a scheduling issue, or meetings to attend. Scheduling is first priority; therefore, I gather all the information needed and attend to the office schedules. Following scheduling, I address any constituent issue I may be working on. The remainder of my day is reserved for research and the occasional meeting. When researching I often start with statute. It is much easier to understand an issue when you know what the law actually says. After reading statute I typically turn to resources our office already has, or contact another state agency in order to better understand the issue I am researching. After gleaning all the information I can from state sources I turn to credible articles I can find online. After fully understanding and researching an issue I discuss my findings with my Chief of Staff, and we then collectively make a decision on what needs further information.

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Ryan Guillen
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.

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Todd Hunter
Student: Economics Sophomore

Working in the Representative's office has been a great experience for me. When I first started working I was issued a key card and ID that allows me to go past security without being screened and access staff elevators and tunnel ways. Parking was never a problem as interns are allowed to park in the DPS garage across the street from the capital. The Representative's office was very accommodating in fitting my work schedule around my classes and I typically get to work at 10am and leave about 2pm. When I first get into the office I have a little time to settle in before I begin working on constituent case work. Constituent case work is the majority of what I do as an Intern and never becomes dull because no constituent case is ever the same. It takes some time in order to learn the different avenues and approaches on each case but after a few weeks I was able to handle most of the cases on my own and was beginning to formulate my own frequent contacts in other agencies that were able to assist me in finding information and solving constituent issues.

Throughout the day I would also be asked to run errands for the office such as deliver or pick up certain things; however, this provided me with an opportunity to see parts of the capital that I never would have seen without working here such as interior offices of the senate building, the supreme court building, and the underground tunnels that go between them. I would typically either eat lunch in the capital cafeteria or if I liked delivery was never a problem. On certain days when our committee was having a hearing we would be particularly busy getting information to the chairman while watching him on TV as he administered the hearing. Interacting with the representative is always enjoyable as he is very charismatic and pleasing to be around. Working as an intern for a representative certainly was a great experience that I would recommend to others. 

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Eddie Lucio III
Student: Sociology Senior

This past summer, I interned in State Representative Eddie Lucio’s III office as a Legislative Intern. Before I provide a description of what I did as intern this summer, I want to begin by saying that interning for a State Representative can vary substantially from office to office, especially during the legislative session. During the legislative session, I have been told that the experience of being an intern greatly changes and is a lot more demanding—since there is so much going on, interns are expected and will have a lot going on as well. However, we were not in session this summer, my experience was a much more casual and slow paced one. 

The “day in the life” of a Legislative Interns involves a lot of very basic, and sometimes seemingly boring and simple tasks. However, if you get involved with it, you will learn a lot and make your experience that much more beneficial. For example, every morning the interns were expected to go to the mailroom, collect the mail, stamp and then sort it. I personally always found this pretty exciting because the office gets a lot of mail, especially newsletters and magazines across a wide variety of industries, so there is always a lot of good reading material to catch up on! A lot of this I found very enlightening, since I had very minimal previous knowledge of all of the various state agencies and all the work they do. Throughout the day, we served as receptionists, answering the phone and greeting all visitors that walked in the office. Again, may seem boring, but it was pretty interesting sometimes! The major part of our day was normally consumed by doing research for various research topics that were given to us. We did this via the internet and research databases. Some days, we were expected to attend agency briefings or hearings, where we were expected to take notes which we would type and turn – but over the course over the summer, this only happened a handful of times. 

Spring 2009 

Position: Legislative Intern, Representative Elliott Naishtat
Student: Government/Rhetoric & Writing Sophomore

This past semester I interned in Representative Elliott Naishtat’s office. With his experience as a veteran State Representative and the Vice Chair of the Public Health Committee, I was privileged to be front and center to many new and exciting experiences and learning opportunities.

I was scheduled to work from 2pm – 5pm Monday to Thursday. However, I often came in an hour or more early as I knew there was plenty to accomplish by 5:00. This was noticed by my supervisor and the other staff members in the office as it meant that they no longer had to answer the phones or greet people at the door, and could focus solely on their legislative assignments.
My first task when I walked in the door is to check my e-mail. The Representative receives dozens of constituent letters every day, and many of the various offices in the capitol are trying to get their constituents to send their comments via e-mail. If there is a response to the constituent’s specific issue has already been drafted, the e-mails or letters are sent to me. I read the constituent’s letter and the draft response. I edit and update the response where needed and then send the response to the constituent.

The next task of the day is to fill any committee reports that may have come in after 12:00pm. This filling system allows the Legislative Aide and myself easy access to all the reports, and makes it much easier to find a specific report. After I have filed all the reports up to this point, I check to see if a calendar, which states what bills will be heard on the floor the next day has been posted. I then pull all of these bills. As the session is coming to a close, the list of bills to be heard has grown from a mere 12 to approximately 60 bills every day.

At this point I usually come to a lull in my day. It is too early to check for afternoon mail, and the Representative is still on the floor so I cannot check the status of the current day’s bills. Therefore, I usually ask the other staff members if they have anything they need help with. Often they need copies made or files organized basic assistant type work.

Around 3:00pm or 3:30pm, I go to the mail room to see if there is any mail delivered since it was picked up at 8:00am. I return to the office either with a few letters or invitations or a stack of constituent letters, more committee reports, and invitations. I then divide the mail up by constituent mail, to be answered by a staff member, newsletters, magazines and personal mail, given to the representative, and invitations, which I enter into the scheduling system.

Around 4:00 or 4:30 a substantial amount of the bills that were heard that day are brought up to the office. Using TLIS, Texas Legislative Information Service, I look up each bill to see if it was passed, postponed, or killed. This allows us to decipher which reports are going to be heard again and need to be kept at in a pending file, which reports have passed and can be recycled, and which reports are no longer needed.

In addition to all of these tasks, I was responsible for answering incoming phone calls and greeting any visitors. Sometimes this meant taking a meeting when a staff member wasn’t present, or even helping a staff member avoid a meeting when they weren’t prepared to take it.

Position: Legislative Aide, Representative Linda Harper-Brown
Student: Government Junior

Working for the Office of State Representative Linda Harper-Brown entails a great deal of variety on a day-to-day basis. On a typical day, an intern would be expected to pick up the mail, sort it, and organize it for other staff members. Then, one could expect to spend at least two hours working on responding to constituent letters. While there are some restraints on this task, there is also a large amount of freedom for the writing process. Finally, interns are required to review the local daily newspaper and highlight articles of interest to the Representative. After these daily tasks are accomplished, one can expect to do anything from filing a bill in the clerk’s office, or answering phone calls, to editing the district newsletter, and writing a bill analysis with other staffers for the Representative.

I can confidently say that the work given to interns in the Office of Linda Harper-Brown is far from mundane. On occasion, interns are also invited to lobbyist events and dinners at the Capitol. At these events, there are some required duties such as: meeting and greeting constituents of the Representative, cleaning up after the event is over, and escorting the Representative to any location necessary. Supervisors and other staffers make a conscious effort to see that interns are given significant and meaningful work alongside their daily tasks and duties.

State Representative Linda Harper-Brown never forgets a face or a birthday. Interns working for the Representative can expect a great deal of satisfaction from Linda Harper-Brown’s generosity. Furthermore, fellow staff members are not only friendly but incredibly encouraging and understanding.

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