Liberal Arts Career Services
Liberal Arts Career Services

Texas House of Representatives

Spring 2017

Position: Legislative Internship
Student: Government Junior

In my site, one of the first things you do when you come into the office is set your things down and go get breakfast. One of the biggest benefits of working in the Texas House is the free food, and you should definitely take advantage of it, because nothing makes the day go by slower than hungrily waiting for lunch to come around. Following this, the next thing you should do is to look through your packet of work and create a to do list of work that needs to be done for the day. Many people underestimate the power of this list, but having it will make your day go by much smoother by having some kind of structure in your day to day work. My day typically starts off with working on small projects that are assigned to me such as taking notes on a committee, doing research, etc. Most of these tasks are time sensitive, so it much better to get them done as early as possible. Upon completing these projects, I usually work on drafting letters or doing research on bills for the representative so he can take an educated position on them. Lunch usually comes around then, and we typically have food catered. We all typically take breaks during lunch, but when people come in we drop what we are doing and meet with them, which ends up making up the rest of our day. While much of this might sound boring, it really isn't. The research you do on bills is extremely interesting, the people you meet all have fantastic stories to tell and great information to give, and the food is always great. You are constantly surrounded by friendly people, and even on the most boring days, you will always enjoy yourself.

Spring 2016

Position: Legistlative Intern
Student: IRG Senior

I would say the most important aspect of my internship was constant communication. Firstly, I would advise communication between the intern and the supervisor, and then with every person who comes into the office. The first thing I did when I accepted this position was to discuss my schedule with my supervisor. It is important to make a work schedule that does not interfere with schoolwork. The earlier you can go into work, the better because it will be your job to check the mail, answer voicemails, and do other clerical work. For this reason, an intern has to plan enough time to travel to and from work. Luckily, the Capitol is very close to UT’s campus and you will get a parking permit and an ID badge, so the time it takes to get from campus into the office should take about 15 minutes.   

Furthermore, your supervisor will not have the time to explain all of the ins and outs of your position, so using knowledge from your studies, online resources, and experience, you will have to know how the legislative process works. This is important because you will be expected to look over legislation, answer constituents’ questions about how your member is voting on certain legislation, and you may be asked to proof read documents. Organization is vital in this position. You could be responsible for managing your member’s schedule, replying to emails, and handling important documents. In this way, it is crucial that an intern keeps all of his or her duties in order. It is important to ask your supervisor if there is anything you can help with. After you finish your daily duties, you should check your email and voicemail once more, and lock the office if you are the last one there. Again, communication is key. As long as you talk to your supervisor, you should learn what is expected of you during your internship.

Position: Legislative Intern, Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence
Student: French Senior

One of the most important lessons learned while interning at a legislative office is becoming a self-starter. Certainly, a newcomer to the Capitol will be given some supervision and instruction, but for the most part, students are expected to develop some level of independence in the workplace. The best place to start each day is in one’s email inbox. An intern should always check his or her email before even asking what to do on a given day. Additionally, it is important for an intern to have some intellectual curiosity and start each day reading the latest news, particularly as it relates to the given area of the state that the legislator represents.

Reading local news is important because while a legislator’s primary responsibility may be lawmaking, an elected official would have a difficult time remaining in office without directly connecting with constituents. Keeping the legislator, or more likely the chief-of-staff, abreast of local events that directly affect the legislator’s constituents will be noted. Furthermore, a large part of an intern’s responsibilities involves constituent services, whereby the staffers in the office act as liaisons between constituents and state agencies. Interns will write many draft letters to constituents, enhancing their writing skills.

Another key task of a legislative intern is research. Not only will an intern be required to conduct research on a number of topics, but he or she will also have to learn how to condense the information to make it easily intelligible. Working at the Capitol can be very exciting, especially when the Legislature is in session, but the job does not come without certain tasks that may not seem so exciting. Answering phones, assembling binders, filing and getting the mail are things most all interns have to do. An intern who takes the initiative, however, to use each moment as either a skill-developing or networking opportunity will get the most of out the internship.

Spring 2015

Position: Legislative Intern
Student: Government Sophomore

My day begins at 8:00 A.M., which is the time that I generally come into the office in order to start getting to work. The day starts off pretty slow as you would expect at 8:00 A.M., but it slowly starts to pick up as we get office visitors and phone calls on different bills being heard in the House of Representatives.

I usually start working on my assigned bills and research by about 9:00 once everybody is settled in the office. I usually track the progress of our bills through our TLIS software, which compiles the different information pertinent to the bill number that I enter into the system. I do my best to also look through different media outlets to identify possible groups of support or opposition.

Additionally, I work on speaking to other offices to identify any possible conflicts that they may have with my assigned bills. It is crucial that I have an understanding of possible opposition before major discussions so that my boss can prepare accordingly. Slowly, I start to realize that there are many different reasons for people to oppose great bills such as private lobby interests, conflicts with their personal beliefs, or conflicts with the general consensus from their electorate. After all of this, we usually have lunch in the office that is sponsored by a lobbyist or a lobby group, which is beneficial because we don’t usually have to pay for own lunch. As the day progresses, I continue to wrap up these different legislative tasks and any additional responsibilities assigned to me.

Position: Committee Correspondent, Texas Legislative Service
Student: Economics Senior

The Texas Legislative Service was a great company to intern for and presented me with a lot of opportunities to better myself and strengthen my skills.  I was assigned to different tasks each day depending on what was needed and depending on what kind of schedule I needed for the day.  My supervisor was very understanding of my schedule and was able to assign me to tasks that would fit my schedule for that week.  

Some days I would come to the office to sign in and then I would head to the capitol to sit in on a committee meeting.  I would bring a laptop into the meeting with me and report on what was happening during the committee and any bill actions that occurred.  As soon as the committee would end, I would go up to the committee clerk and gather any substitutes if there were any and then I would return them to the office so that they could get uploaded to the system.  I would then revise and edit my report making sure that the names of any witnesses presenting testimony were spelled correctly and that I had written their job title and company correctly.  Committee meetings are unpredictable.  At the beginning of session, each committee meeting would last about an hour.  As session progresses, the committee meetings get longer.  They can also deviate in time based on what bills or how many bills are being brought up.

I was usually assigned to do bill linking.  On those days, I would be given a list of about 150-200 news articles that I would have to read through and research which bills the articles were referring to.  Sometimes bills would be written out in the articles, but most of the time I would have to go into the system and search for them based on the information that the article provided such as the author, a key word, the date that an action occurred or what vote it was passed by. After finding the bills that corresponded with each article, I would get into the system and link the bills to the articles by connecting the article reference number to the bill that it corresponded to.  On a normal day, this would take about 4-5 hours.  There were some days that I was able to finish bill linking in 2 hours and other days that it would take me 8 hours.  It all depends on the articles that were posted that day.

Spring 2011

Position: Assistant to the Chief of Staff
Student: Sociology Senior

My workweek is extremely scheduled and patterned. I work Monday through Thursday from 12:30-5:30. On Monday and Wednesday, Representative Elkins has committee meetings once the House is adjourned or at 2, whichever is later. Monday and Wednesday typically have similar schedules. I get to work at 12:30 and catch up on the bills being heard in the House that day and I work on constituent issues and responses until either Ways & Means Committee or Culture, Recreation, & Tourism Committee meet. Once the meetings are scheduled, I go to the meeting room and deliver Representative Elkins’ binder and stay for the meeting, listening and taking notes on the bills being discussed.

When bills are laid out, I am responsible for understanding the purpose of the bill and noting which organizations are for and which are opposed to the bill and why. I also keep track of the pending business discussed in Committee.  On Tuesday and Thursday, I have less of a steady schedule. I still arrive to work at 12:30 and am updated about House proceedings but my projects and work tend to vary on those days, as I am not crunched for time in the office. I typically start by updating any outstanding projects I have in order for them to be available as soon as possible. I then tackle any constituent emails I have been forwarded since the day before and store them in the Correspondence Management System. I reply to letters we already have a stance on and wait on others. I refer letters to other representatives and deliver these letters to their corresponding offices. Throughout the day, I must answer and direct calls as well as be ready to talk to constituents or organizations about legislation of importance to them. I help Jessica greet different lobbyists and organizations that stop by the office and answer any questions I can.

Position: Assistant
Student: Government Senior

A day in the life of an intern at the Capitol for a House of Representative at times can vary in a range of responsibilities.  No day is the exactly same. Some days you will have phones ringing off the hook, needing to be answered or people coming into the office. Whatever information that comes into the office needs to be sorted out and merged into an organized manageable database.  Whereas other days, you might be running errands, for example going to the floor to give the Representative papers to be signed.  Whatever the task maybe you will learn something new about the professional work environment. It was hard going into work when you know you were not getting paid and nerve racking to know that they were depending on you to do a good job. The professionalism that I have acquired did not happen overnight; I had to trial and error it for a while. I was not perfect when I had to give my first interview. I was nervous and afraid that I would miss represent our office. Before, working at the Capitol I only had jobs that I consider “high school jobs,” for example Abercrombie and Fitch. It was a mindless job that did not require any use of my brain at all and the same goes for Carrabba’s.

The internship was a weird transition to go though. I am glad that I did that internship. Opened my eyes to the professional world that I am glad I learned before going into something that really counts. This internship was like baby steps to get me motived to continue to farer my goals and aspirations. One thing that I learned about working in this environment is that I do not know everything and it is okay to ask questions. My bosses stressed to us if we do not understand something then they would rather us ask before we do the task instead guessing and getting it wrong. But if we did get it wrong that it was okay and that this was a learning experience for all of us. I am glad that my Representative was a freshman because it made it easier to learn because no one fully knew what to expect.

Position: Legislative Intern
Student: Government Senior

A day at the Capitol is like no other. I arrive around 8AM (assuming our committees do not meet before that time) and look through the mail, seeing what letters need a response and what information the Representative needs to see before voting on a bill. Some the mail I file away in a large cabinet, designating what organization the document came from and what the subject matter is. Next, I start writing letters to respond to constituents. This is a long and sometimes tedious process because oftentimes, they will write to us about a bill which we are unfamiliar with. Perhaps it has not even been heard in its respective committee, in which case most everyone but the author is unfamiliar with the contents of the legislation, why it was filed, and what fiscal impact it may have. From here, I will look for more information about the legislation. I can read the bill myself and/or contact the author’s office for “talking points” on it, and after gathering more information I can speak to the Representative and help her form an opinion on it. Once we have an idea how we will vote on the bill, I can start to formulate a response, oftentimes being very vague in the process. Throughout the day, citizens from all over the state call and share their opinions and I have to take these calls as they come.

Some days I take meetings with lobbyists in the Representative’s office, particularly when we suspect the group is going to offer little new information and when the Chief of Staff is too busy to sit down with them. My task here is mostly to take notes, nod my head occasionally, and ask some questions that could help us legislate in the future. My time commitment as an intern was whatever I wanted it to be. I was required to come to work for three days a week, but I often opted to come in early, stay late, and also volunteered my time on the other two weekdays at the office. This was really beneficial because it led to my getting hired on.

Spring 2010 Site Review

Position: Legislative Intern
Student: Government Senior

Interning at the state capitol of Texas in different than any job I have ever done.  On a daily basis, you can find any and every kind of citizen wandering the vast marbled halls, or protesting on the grand steps out front.  Working for the House is a bit different that the  Senate, because the House is so much larger that all of it’s employees are doomed to be underground in the maze of offices.  Its kind of like a shopping mall, except each office is selling the idea that they represent their own constituency the best.  A day in the life of intern usually follows as: wake up early, drink a lot of coffee.  Suit and tie, or professional attire only. Some Fridays you can het away with wearing jeans and going casual, but usually business dress all the way.  Most interns park in a parking garage off San Jacinto and have to do a pretty long walk up to the elevator hubs that take you underground.  But once you get some experience, sometimes your given the privilege of parking underground.

Once arriving at the capitol the usual first duty is to check the mail by the cafeteria, and then drink more coffee. Usually the mail takes a good hour to sort through because there are so many different types of organizations trying to reach the Representative you work for. Then more coffee. After mail, usually some constituents have requests that need tending to.  This can be anything from writing a congrats letter with a forged signature, to having a Texas flag flown for someone on a special occasion and mailing it to them afterward.  There is always a ton of paperwork.  Either to be filed, shredded, or read, any person that works at the capitol has to be fluent in Microsoft programs such as Excel, Outlook, Word, etc…  The day usually ends when your told you can leave or class arrives.  Being an intern is both glorifying and boring, and its getting your foot in the door that counts.  At the end of the day, all of the paper pushing and annoying constituent phone calls are forgotten when once can proudly say, “I work at the state capitol.”?”

Spring 2010 Site Review

Position: Legislative Aide
Student: Government Sophomore

As far as internship sites go, the Capitol is quite a spectacle. For the first few weeks of my internship, I would see the Capitol from campus or downtown and a surreal feeling would come over me- I actually work there. Unfortunately, the significance of the site was note reflected in the significance of the work that I was assigned. The terms "paper pushing" and "desk job" are the resounding phrases I would use to describe my experience.

As an intern, you do everything in the office that none of the other staffers want to do: Answer the phone and take messages, check the mail, enter countless correspondence into the online database, then file the countless correspondence. You're role is inferior to everyone else in the building. In meetings you listen to staffer's from other offices complain about the incompetency of "young irresponsible interns." But, you take it and smile, because it's all part of the social hierarchy of things here- especially if you want to be one of those powerful old important people that gets to boss interns around. With the exception of when the House is in session, everyday is the same- work is monotonous. If you're one of the lucky ones, you'll get paid.

Although my previous statements are cynical towards the industry, it is because I’ve discovered the industry is not for me. For those who are passionate about perusing a career in government or politics, all of the negative things I have listed are just critical stepping stones to get to a higher position. There are also some positive elements to the job, I just tend to focus on the negative because for me, the negatives way outweigh the positives. However, I did acquire a better understanding of Government, which affects everyone, including myself. I also gained more social capital than I ever imaged I would working at the Capitol.

Spring 2009 Site Review

Student:Government Sophomore
Position:Legislative Intern

The position of a legislative intern for a Texas State Representative is a part-time, session-only position that is usually unpaid. The internship requires a flexible, dependable person with strong organizational abilities. You should also be able to work well under pressure, meet deadlines and maintain confidentiality. No previous experience is necessary but you should have an interest in the legislative process. By the end of the internship, you will have gained valuable knowledge of the Texas Legislature and developed strong networking skills.

You will work a minimum of 15 hours per week but must be able to work extended hours as required to meet demands during the legislative session. The daily responsibilities of a legislative intern are: answering phones, filing, working with constituents and lobbyists, preparing constituent correspondence, inputting data into computer programs, coordinating the Representative’s calendar, and organizing/preparing committee and floor packets. You will also be assigned other tasks including legislative research, preparing bill analyses, and tracking legislation. During the internship you will provide assistance to the Chief of Staff and Legislative Aide. You should have a positive attitude and the willingness to complete all tasks you are assigned.

Spring 2009 Site Review

Student: English Senior
Position: Legislative Intern

A Day in the Life of a legislative intern begins around nine and ends around two, being about a five hour day. As a legislative intern, one works inside the Texas Capitol among Texas policy makers and their staff. A Day in the Life of a legislative intern involves many routine and administrative aspects, such as: answering phones, taking messages, greeting individuals who enter the office, sorting through mail, entering events into the calendar, responding to letters and replying to constituents either through correspondence or phone calls.

Having said that, “A Day in the Life of a legislative intern” is never routine; there is always something new happening and never is today’s work like yesterdays. Some of the more time consuming and important tasks involve writing; tasks like: writing press releases, bill analysis, speeches, and resolutions. Being that one must gather information about the subject matter before writing about it, such tasks also almost always involve research. Research is also necessary when reading over bills as it is necessary to know about the current law in order to understand how it is being amended. Another big part of a day in the life of an intern is meeting and interacting with new people whether it be: constituents, legal professionals, lobbyists, public officials, staff members, or other Representatives. As a legislative intern one has the unique opportunity to study and see the inner workings of the legislative process by gaining direct knowledge of how a legislative office functions and works to represent constituent issues and concerns.

“A Day in the Life of an intern” is all about learning; learning about the legislative process: how legislation is developed, drafted, and negotiated and learning firsthand about the decision-making process: the intersection of politics and law, and legislative institutions. In the midst of the learning and the doing, one finds themselves very much a part of the law making and political process.

Spring 2009 Site Review

Student: English/Spanish Senior
Position: Legislative Intern

The internship at the Texas House of Representatives has been an incredible learning experience. My duties as an intern changed and increased as the legislative session progressed. Initially, I was in charge of the filing and organization system for the office. Since this was the first session for the Representative, the office staff had to work extra hard in order to establish the office and a working relationship between the staff. The organization of a new member's office materials was not an easy task, but my co-workers were able to help me put together a system that was organized and efficient. I also helped considerably with constituent correspondence by drafting letters. I wrote the newsletter every week, analyzed bills, and occasionally helped draft the bill analysis that was necessary in order to submit the Representative's bills for consideration for a committee hearing. The mixture of different tasks and responsibilities gave me a well-rounded picture of the inner workings of a legislator's office and prepared me for a future in the field if I so choose.

A day in the life of a legislative intern is a mix of different projects and responsibilities. I usually started the morning by pulling the legislative clippings for the Representative and the rest of the staff. I often spent the morning catching up on filing different reports and looking over the constituent correspondence for the day. After eating lunch, I usually drafted letters for correspondence and summarized bills during the afternoon. These summaries included brief outlines and recommendations for the Representative to look over as he studied the bills. I usually left at five since I was an intern, but the rest of the staff often had to stay until late hours in the evening for committee hearings. The hours grew later as the session moved into May, and occasional Saturdays were required. All in all, it was a very satisfying and intensive learning experience.

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