Liberal Arts Career Services
Liberal Arts Career Services

Texas Senate

Fall 2017

Position: Administrative Aide, Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.
Student: Government Senior

Currently, I intern for the Office of State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr., who represents Senate District 27 in the Rio Grande Valley. As administrative aide, I am assigned tasks such as handling constituent requests, developing special recognitions for events, answering phone calls, greeting guests, and analyzing bills in effect from previous legislative sessions. I am also taking 15 credit hours this semester and work 20 hours a week at my internship site. I work Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays while attending school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This way, I am able to dedicate myself to both school and my internship, commuting in between the University of Texas and the Texas Capitol.

A regular week begins with a staff conference call on Mondays at 8:00 A.M. to discuss pending calendar events, special announcements, and legislative projects. Afterwards, I review Senator Lucio’s state account emails and forward them to his chief of staff, while distributing the physical mail as well. I also collect and distribute the physical mail from over the weekend to the local internal staff. If there is any correspondence that must be sent to the district offices, I prepare an overnight package and send them accordingly. We communicate daily with Senator Lucio’s three district offices located in South Texas to assist facilitating his schedule. After completing these responsibilities, I clean the refrigerator with any food left over from last week and re-stock kitchen supplies. My work day also consists of answering phone calls, greeting guests, lobbyists, other state legislators, local and statewide politicians, and most importantly, Senator Lucio’s constituency. From time to time, we greet individuals wanting to take a look at our marvelous view of Congress Avenue. As an administrative intern, it is important to monitor calendar events because I am responsible in preparing gavels and proclamations as a recognition on behalf of Senator Lucio. Furthermore, it is important that I maintain contact with the internal postal office because of frequent time sensitive incoming correspondence. Working in this professional environment is rewarding – during holiday celebrations, students from all over the state perform live entertainment in the main rotunda with respect to the specific holiday. For example, on Mexican Independence Day, a band of student Mariachis played with authentic instruments as guests visiting the Capitol joined in to sing. It’s the little things that make working in such a diverse and friendly environment a memorable experience.  

Spring 2017

Position: Office Intern, Senator Bob Hall 
Student: Health & Society Junior

For the Spring 2017 semester I interned for State Senator Bob Hall at the Texas Capitol. Working in the Capitol is an incredible opportunity to gain invaluable experience and create lasting relationships that will further your career. The Capitol is full of knowledgeable individuals that are willing to teach (if they have time) and vital resources for those interested in government. To give a “day in the life” description of my internship is difficult, as days at the Capitol (especially during session) vary greatly. Additionally, tasks of an intern rarely include hanging out with the Governor, giving key advice to a Legislator, or heling draft a bill that saves millions of lives and dollars. However, the life of an intern at the Capitol is still interesting and worthwhile, even when it sometimes takes a reminder or two that the internship is worth it in the long run. 

Typically, Legislators are flexible with the hours that their intern works, and allow a schedule that revolves around classes. So, an intern will typically arrive to the office after class, may change into formal clothes in one of the Capitol bathrooms, and then head to one of the hundreds of offices in the extension building. Upon arriving to the office, the intern will likely have a list of tasks for the day, and if not, will need to ask the immediate supervisor for any tasks that need completed or assisting on. These tasks may range from filing papers to calling constituents, and all need to be done in an efficient manner, as the interns hours may be limited due to other activities. There of course are other activities that will need to be completed, but the tasks to greatly vary, and always include a learning curve. Regardless of the activities, the intern will be offered a rare peek into how the Texas government functions, which is worth it all. 

Position: Senatorial Intern, Senator Brock Miles
Student: Psychology Junior

Congrats! You have landed yourself the elusive intern job at the stately Texas Capitol as a Legislative Intern for the Texas Senate. Every other year the Texas Capitol is flooded with fresh new faces who’ve watched a little too much House of Cards and are ready to start making big changes. This can be a very exciting time as well as a very fast paced one. Depending on whether you’re in school, your other time commitments, and if you’re part of a internship program legislative interns are either full time or part time. With part time there is flexibility of hours but with full time the typical hours are 9-5 and as session gets further into April and May you may be asked to stay later to assist with last minute legislation and briefings or attend hearings.

The workload also varies with your time commitment and what committees you get assigned to for your Senator. There are 12 standing committees in the Texas Senate. Due to this wide range of committees there is something of interest for everyone and always room to learn. With that being said here are some typical duties interns usually handle on a daily basis when they are at the Capitol. Interns will answer constituent calls and mail and enter their opinions into a Correspondence Management System- CMS for short. Especially when controversial bills are being heard interns will get flooded with phone calls and mail. As an intern you will also meet with a multitude of people regarding legislation. That group will consist of constituents, activist groups, lobbyists, lawyers, Senate and House staff members, organization heads, and even other Senators and House of Representatives. You will also attend briefings and hearings to track your Senator’s bills or other important bills of interest and brainstorm ideas of potential bills to either draft, companion, or sign on to. And most importantly as something that is famously said in the Capitol, “the Capitol is like a highschool” so not only will you network and schmooze during the day but once 5 o’clock hits you get the opportunity to network and schmooze at various receptions and happy hours and hopefully land another job working either in the interim or next session. 

 

 

Position: Legislative Internship, Senator Konni Burton
Student: Government Junior

From January 9th to May 29th of 2017, I have had the distinct privilege of being a legislative intern in the office of State Senator Konni Burton (R-10). I worked three days a week, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, from 9:00 to 5:00 (or sometimes 6:00). I had the opportunity to work under some incredibly smart people that I had an amazing time getting to know. Although the environment was a little intimidating right at first, I pretty quickly felt comfortable in my role in the office. While I am sure every internship is different, generally speaking, I think it is pretty much understood that you should not walk in thinking that all of sudden you own the place. The very first task I was asked to do on January 9th was to shred papers, and that’s okay! If you give it time, do the things you are supposed to do to the best of your ability, and make a concerted effort to engage with the people that you work for, it is very likely that you won’t have to wait too long before the people you work with start trusting you with more important tasks. Throughout the internship, I did a host of different things, including attending staff briefings with a senior staff member, helping prepare binders that Senator Burton used during committee hearings and floor debate, talking with constituents via phone and email to record their opinions and report them into the Correspondence Management System. I’ll admit that the work isn’t always glamorous, but believe me, that doesn’t mean that the other people in the office don't appreciate the work that you do. Always show up on time, do as your told to do, and offer to go above and beyond of what is required. It may just end in a potential job opportunity!

Position: Legislative Intern, Senator Kirk Watson
Student: Government Junior 

For my internship with Sen. Watson I wake up at 7:30 and work until 12 or 12:30 depending on the day. It’s important to note that most Reps./Sens. are flexible and will work to accommodate your schedule if you are a full time student. Most interns work 15 hours a week +-5. 12 is the lowest I have heard of someone working, the highest being around 40-60 hours for those who work full time during session. After ‘suiting up’ you will drive/walk/bus down to the Capitol. Once there you present your Capitol ID to the guards then you will descend into the Capitol’s catacombs or stay on the main floor if your rep has seniority. Once getting into the office the first thing you’ll need to do is log into your email to see if there are any priority items you’ve been assigned. After that it will highly depend on the office you are in and the level of responsibility you have. The first thing I do after checking my emails is call/email the sergeant at arms to see what pages showed up today. The Capitol has a program where parents can sign their child up to work with the senate messengers through their State Senator. Being that Sen. Watson represents the Austin area we have a lot of parents who want their kids involved in the program. After that I print out certificates for the kids and grab a picture of them with the Senator on the senate floor or in his office (you can see my photography skills on his social media). After that, if there is a Senate Resolution I will go into the gallery and give it to the group who is being recognized. The majority of the work that interns do in the office is called CMS correspondent management system. Being that they are elected officials someone has to service and respond to their constituents and interns get stuck with this. CMS revolves around emails, phone calls, and letters from constituents. You take down what they are talking about and then log their opinion on the matter in the data base so that we can send a letter out to them. On certain days lobbyists come to the office to speak with the Sen. or staffers and bring lunch, which rocks. All in all it is hard to say what a typical day is as when the session is going on it’s highly erratic. 

Position: Legislative Internship, Senator Menendez
Student: Government Junior

 Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1:30 to around 6 or 7 I could be found in the Office of Senator Jose Menendez. As a legislative/ communications intern everyday was something different. Like always I would get to the office and check my email for assignments from my Chief of Staff, which were always a priority, or other assignments from my legislative/ communications director. My assignments basically included writing press releases on certain bills or expressing the Senator’s opinion on a bad bill that would harm a lot of Texas residents. I also drafted op-eds on certain bills like David’s Law and SB 269, which legalizes medical marijuana for people that have a disabling disease.  If it wasn’t either of those I would update the press list or write constituency letters, which was a weekly if not daily task. If there was a bill we were going to lay out on the floor or if there was a hearing, my legislative director and I would work on putting together the Senator’s bill book, which included the bill text, the committee sub, talking points, questions, and supporting documents. If it was a highly controversial bill or a bill we had gotten some push back for it was my job to do extra research to ensure our talking points and arguments could be as strong as they could with powerful supporting evidence. For example with SB 13 I had to do extra research about Supreme Court precedent that would aid us in stopping even more intense and unnecessary voting identification.  At times I would also go with my Chief of Staff or Legislative Director to the Senate floor and bring the necessary materials while it was in order. I also went to State Affairs meetings with my director and took notes on all the questions that were asked on one of our bills. By around four o clock if we weren’t working on any bill book or bill, I would finish all of my tasks and ask what I could help with next. Usually that meant either meeting with constituents if needed, or write a draft for another press release or anything else needed that day for communications. After I finished all my work, I would leave at around 6 pm on a non-hectic day. 

Position: Legislative Intern, Senator Brandon Creighton
Student: Government Senior 

I have interned for Senator Creighton for almost a year now, and I can honestly say no two days have ever been the same. The biggest difference lies between the interim and session. During the interim I had limited tasks to accomplish and honestly I was often bored. Session on the other hand could not have been more opposite. Every day, I answered the phones and met with individuals who walk into our office. The traffic associated with these tasks can vary. Somedays the phones ring off the hook and our office door becomes revolving so that it is difficult to accomplish any other tasks.  Also, I was in charge of responding to any personalized emails or letters. This required me to put the email or letter into our database called CMS and then draft a response to the letter, get the Senator to approve the response and make any changes he desired and then get the response letter mailed out and close out the case in CMS.

My other big responsibility is assisting with the Criminal Justice Committee. That consists of keeping track of what bills are going to be heard in committee, attending a staff briefing on Friday and Monday mornings, and attending the committee hearing on Tuesday afternoons. Along with doing the bill tracks for each bill being heard in committee that weeks. Bill tacks are where the staff analyzes the bills being heard, gives their recommendation for how their boss should vote, and lists any stakeholders the Senator may have for a particular bill, so he or she is informed and prepared to make a decision in committee.

I also get assigned random little tasks to help make our office run as smooth as possible. Overall, I have really enjoyed my internship and the individuals I work with. I have learned more than I thought possible throughout this experience and highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning about the legislative process. 

Fall 2016  

Position: Legislative Intern, Senator Sylvia Garcia
Student: American Studies Senior

This semester I was a legislative intern for State Senator Sylvia Garcia. I worked in 4.5 hour shifts every other day of the week; I usually worked at the same time as another intern so we would split office duties like answering the phone and greeting visitors. As a legislative intern, my main responsibility was to conduct research for our staff members.

There isn’t really a typical day in my office because there is always a new and different assignment to work on. I usually begin the day by checking my state email and checking in with my boss. If I don’t have an assignment to work on I will read the legislative clippings on CapWeb or the news. Otherwise, I will get to work on whatever assignment our legislative director or policy analysts need help with. My assignments are primarily to compile and analyze research for things like potential bill ideas and committee hearings. One of my favorite research assignments was to create my own policy proposals. Working on bill research is pretty cool because you are doing work that is actually useful and meaningful, but sometimes the research can be pretty mundane, like creating spreadsheets on private school tuition rates. In addition to research responsibilities, the other interns and I share pretty typical intern duties like answering the phone, calling the messengers, watering the plants, office inventory etc. Like any office, some days are slower than other. Because it’s not session, our Capitol office can be pretty empty sometimes, and there are sometimes days when nobody calls; other days are filled with enough calls, meetings, and research to make the time fly by.

My favorite part of this internship was working on creating bills. It’s nice to have an internship where you feel like you are actually contributing and are valued for more than just getting coffee. 

Spring 2015

Position: Intern, Senator Judith Zaffirini
Student: Plan II Honors Sophomore

First off, there is no typical “day in the life.” Unless you have an overarching research project, you go into work unsure of what the day will bring. Some days are exciting, with Committee Hearings and engaging projects. Others are downright dull, because someone has to put the committee notebooks and bill notebooks together. Some days are historic, like the inauguration of a Texas governor for the first time in fourteen years, and others have fun details, like when SeaWorld comes to the capitol to lobby and they bring penguins. Not even start times are set in stone. 9:00 AM is the general goal, but some days you might be needed by 7:00 AM. While this seems burdensome, remember that your boss probably got here at 4:00 AM, or if it’s a rough week they stayed all night.


You’ll be responsible for fluently learning the lexicon and SOP (standard office procedure) of the office. Senator Zaffirini has been in the Senate for longer than you’ve been alive, and in that time period she has gained a lot of respect around the capitol for the way she gets things done. That being said, this kind of efficiency takes a detailed, often painstaking system of creating and storing documents, a system you will often find yourself managing. You’ll also be responsible for reading bills on subjects you know nothing about before summarizing them or analyzing them before giving a recommendation. Keep Google open for all words you don’t know, take your time, and when summarizing, remember to be concise yet through. Though it might not always feel like it, on any given day you’ll be doing work that really matters. You’ll be researching bills that people will talk about on the news. Take advantage of your time because anything could happen on any given day.

Spring 2013

Position: Legislative Intern, Senator Craig Estes
Student: Geography Senior

My internship was in Senator Craig Estes’ office at the State Capitol in downtown Austin. I had various different duties as an office intern.  The interns were required to be in the office at 8 am every morning, but I would usually get there early to get the coffee going and to turn everything on. Once I had the coffee going and all papers in their place, I would check the incoming mail and distribute it to the appropriate staffer.  Then I would usually make sure there were no voicemails to be checked and if there were I would take down all the messages. The phones needed to be taken off forward as well at this point in the morning.

By 9 am most of the other staff members have made it into the office and the day has taken off. Through out the day, I answer phones and greet the people that walk through the door. Most of them are lobbyist or government employees coming to speak to the Senator or a staff member working on a bill. Constituents from the district will stop by frequently to say hello and talk about a special interest if they have one. The days can get busy and long, and staying on our toes is always important. The phones will ring and there will be people in the lobby waiting all at the same time.

It’s also my duty to input all messages and correspondence into CMS. This is so we can track all support or opposition to a bill, or any concerns a constituent might have.  If we need to go back later and check what they wrote about we can, simply by pulling them up in CMS. I also am in charge of drafting letters to send back to the people we get incoming correspondence from. This takes up a lot of time because I have to find information of the subject and get it approved by the Legislative Director. At the end of the day, we clean everything up and shut the office down. Some nights we all go out as an office and unwind after a busy day.

Position: Legislative Intern, Senator Judith Zaffirini
Student: Plan II/Business Honors/Finance Junior

As one of Senator Zaffirini’s legislative interns, my duties are fairly varied and the time commitment is 12-15 hours per week. I work for one of her staff members (each of her permanent staff members tend to be responsible for a certain Senate committee)  and thus that staff member’s related bills, as well as researching the bills that are referred to my Senate Committee that are not authored by Zaffirini. During session, I am extremely busy because Senator Zaffirini likes to be overprepared. Each of her bills requires a bill notebook, which is a legal-sized, four-ring binder that includes not only analyses of the bill, vetting, background, and relevant news, but also anticipated questions and other miscellaneous items that most other senators do not require.

Senator Zaffirini has a very strong work ethic and thus expects a lot from her staff, especially in terms of efficiency. She has standard operating procedures, which are essentially formats (for memos and letters) that all staff should adhere to.

Before session gets busy, expect to be doing a lot of prep work, such as fielding ideas from constituents and interested parties for bills, responding to letters for Zaffirini, and writing letters of recommendation on her behalf. We draft the letters, and she edits them and makes sure that they convey her wishes and desired language. This revision and rewriting process can often take more than a week, so you may be working on the same projects for a while.

However, once session gets busy, miscellaneous items get back-burned and legislation is the top priority. Senator Zaffirini files many bills, so working on those will occupy almost all of your time.

Spring 2011 

Position: Legislative Intern, Senator Jane Nelson
Student: Government Junior

I have worked in Senator Jane Nelson's (Senate District 12) office for the past 9 months as an "Legislative Intern".  My typical work week is 12-15hours a week split over 3 days.  Depending on my school schedule, I will either work mornings or afternoons.  While working in the morning, interns must take care of mail received from the previous night.  The Senate mail service runs early in the morning, so it is important to sort the mail.  While sorting the mail, we must date stamp the mail.  Date stamping is important because the Senator likes to know how long it takes for mail coming from constituents to reach her desk and for her to respond.  Once date stamping is done, we complete other office tasks that include sorting, filing, mailing letters etc. 

A big part of an interns responsibilities it entering all incoming constituent messages into a computer program called Constituent Management System (CMS). CMS keeps tracks of all incoming mail, phone calls and office visits the Senator has received for the last 15 years.  By entering all incoming correspondence into CMS, the Senator is able to track what bills interest her constituents the most. Moreover,  the Senator knows the opinions of her district in relating to certain issues.  It is important to be able to enter all incoming correspondence in a fast manner because bills are continuingly being called to the floor for debate and voting. I have spent a lot of my time working on an incoming correspondence count in excel.  I run queries in CMS and get the number of letters/calls/emails that have been received in relation to certain bills or issues over a given time period.   When not entering data into CMS, interns work in the Health and Human Service Committee Office, which Senator Nelson chairs.  While in the HHS Office, interns assist the clerk in getting things ready for committee hearings by helping put together binders and reports.  Interns also are responsible for transporting work folders and documents back in forth to the Senator while in committee hearings and on the Senate floor.  While on the Senator floor, we are asked to take notes on debate and give summaries about our time spent there.

Position: Legislative Intern, Senator Jane Nelson
Student: Government Senior

Working as a legislative Intern for State Senator Jane Nelson has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Arriving every morning, to work inside the State Capitol gives me goose bumps while walking through the doors. There is a feeling of history that overwhelms you with a side of anxiousness for the history that is being made. Everybody seems to be focused on their own specific task, running around in circles, trying to achieve their daily goal.

My first duties when arriving to work at 8:30 is to stamp the mail, and sort it into different categories according to constituency. Next my duties are to check the voice mail and give all of the notes to the Senator. Additionally, I gather all of the previous days mail and begin putting all of the information into the computer systems, so that the Senator will be able to quickly jump onto the computer and see what the public and her constituents have to say about specific bills or other legislation.

Among my other tasks and duties, are the times when I attend conferences and meetings to take notes and pass the information along to the Senator and the rest of the staff. These meetings are usually some of my favorite times at the Capitol because I get to meet so many different people that work in all different areas of the governmental structure. With that being said, being a legislative intern for a State Senator is the most valuable experience that I have ever had the pleasure of being part of.

 


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