Liberal Arts Career Services
Liberal Arts Career Services

U.S. House of Representatives

Spring 2018

Position: Congressional Intern, Roger Williams
Student: Government Junior

My internship in the office of Congressman Roger Williams has been a fantastic experience. I learned much about the political process and grew further in my career aspirations. I have worked this semester as a “Congressional Intern.” A typical “Day in the Life” for my internship involved lots of hard work. I would arrive at the office on my work days typically around 12:00 PM and be there until 5:00 PM. The first task I complete when arriving in the office is to check to see if any constituents left any voicemails. To do this, I open up Google Chrome and click on the voicemail tab. I then carefully take note of the name, date, and contact information left by each individual. We put this information into a database called “IQ” to keep track of each message. Later on, my supervisor responds to the needs of each message left by a constituent. This can come in the form of a personal letter or phone call. The next item I would take care of at the office on a regular day would be to go and get the mail. Congressman Williams receives many letters and invitations from his constituents asking for his attendance. This mail is very key to Congressman Williams having a strong relationship with his district population. After this, I usually listen to audio-transcripts of speeches given by the Congressman. Listening to these intently, I type out the speech word for word so the Congressman can have a record of his political engagements. This can take a lot of time and is very detailed work. Another area I participate in during my internship is public policy research. This is by far the most enjoyable task I work on at the office. My supervisor has me study new bills and legislation that is currently being circulated through Washington. It is so interesting to know the ins and outs of each new policy issue and how legislators seek to find creative solutions to better aid our everyday lives as Americans. My internship site is a beautiful place to be at. It is nine floors high in an office building across the street from the Texas State Capitol. In the hallway outside my office, one can see amazing views of the Capitol and the surrounding area. There are also two other employees who work in the Austin office with me. There is a “District Chief of Staff” and a “Staff Assistant.” Both are full-time employees and are obviously higher than myself on the totem pole.

Summer 2016

Position: Congressional Intern, Michael McCaul
Student: Government Sophomore

This summer I worked as a Congressional Intern in the Austin District office of U.S. Congressman Michael T. McCaul, who represents the 10th Congressional District of Texas. Congressman McCaul’s district includes Travis, Harris, Fayette, Austin, Colorado, Waller, Washington, Bastrop, and Lee counties; all of the citizens in these counties are constituents of Congressman McCaul. The function of the Austin District office is to serve these constituents and communicate to McCaul’s offices in DC, Katy, Brenham, and Humble.

My work schedule has consistently been Monday through Thursday, 9:00a.m. to 12:00p.m. My supervisor was very flexible when setting up my schedule and she understood that school was the priority. She was also understanding of vacation time during the summer and I was able to take time off to vacation during two separate weeks. The office is a small and quiet environment. There are only four other staff members total and there is usually only one intern working at the same time as I do; I like this environment because there is a dominant energy of focus, but there is still the presence of your team that can assist with any task. My first task of the day would be to check the voice mail, recording the callers name, number, and their message, then I would send all of them to my supervisor. After that, my supervisor sometimes asks me to return some of the calls to either direct the constituent to our website resources or to ask for more information to help them. Other projects through out my day include drafting letters and certificates to be sent to businesses and constituents in the district. I also answer all of the phone calls that come in during the morning. On the phone I assist veterans, senior citizens, immigrants, and other constituents who can be assisted through our office. If the media calls, I direct them to our media coordinator. At the end of the day I get the mail from downstairs and then head out for class just before rush hour at lunch.

Fall 2016  

Position: Congressional Intern, Lloyd Doggett
Student: Economics Sophomore

Interning at the Austin District Office of Congressman Lloyd Doggett is an incredibly rewarding experience. In a typical day, you learn more about the government process and the federal bureaucracy than you thought there was to know, even though the reach of intern duties is fairly small - we mainly deal with constituents on a daily basis. 

The first thing interns do in the office each day is sort emails, routing each email to the legislative aid that deals with the thing it's most closely related to. Although this work may sometimes seem monotonous, it is integral to the government process. Constituent concerns must be relayed if any legislation is to be made, and email is the most common form of communication that they interact with us with. Some constituents do call in their opinions to the district office, and interns are responsible for fielding those concerns as well. This is probably the biggest responsibility you will have at the office, because everything you say is taken as the word of the Congressman himself.  On occasion, interns are responsible for sending letters of congratulations or condolence to constituents, which is incredibly important because these are things that people treasure if they are done well. We also communicate with federal agencies on behalf of constituents, which we call "casework." This is supervised heavily, with each communication being edited and re-edited by staff members.

The time commitment for the internship is what you choose. Your schedule will be the same each week, and they understand if you need to call in sick or take a day off to study. There are some district events that are typically after normal work hours, but those are all optional and you will be asked if you can attend, not told to. All in all, the more you are willing to give the more you will get from the internship.   

Position: District Intern, Lloyd Doggett
Student: History Senior

Interning for Congressman Lloyd Doggett is a great experience! Working in a district office for a politician is a lot of fun and is full of learning opportunities.

Interns are required to work 15 hours a week and to attend at least one event with the Congressman. The number of hours you typically work varies depending on your schedule but it will generally be at least three or so hours. Most of the responsibilities for interns are the same: answer phones and assist staff members. Answering the phones is probably the most important job for interns. Interns must make sure to get the proper spelling of a caller’s name, their address and correct spelling, their phone number (and whether or not it is a cell/home/business phone number), email address, and their reason for calling. Interns then need to update the caller’s profile in the office’s online record system and add a comment stating why they called. Interns must also add mail for the appropriate staff member in the online record system. Phone calls can run the gamut from recording messages for constituents, to properly routing calls to the appropriate staff member, to ticket requests for the White House or for flag requests. It is important to always be polite when speaking with constituents on the phone and to refrain from giving out personal opinions. It is also imperative that interns do not give out information about the Congressman’s whereabouts.

When the staff members don’t have any assignments for you to work on, interns can do an event search for local events the Congressman can attend, can do an obituary search and update people’s profiles in the online record system, and they can search the online record system for duplicate profiles. Interns in the morning are largely responsible for going through Exception, which is the Congressman’s email, and routing the emails to the appropriate staff member. Afternoon interns are responsible for sorting and properly filing the incoming mail and newspapers and taking down the outgoing mail.

Spring 2016

Position: Congressional Intern, Michael McCaul
Student: Philosophy/Liberal Arts Honors Sophomore

I am interning at the district office of Congressman Michael McCaul. Our office represents the tenth congressional district of Texas. I work three times a week. My daily tasks include answering phones when constituents call, and helping direct their call to the right person or talking to them about their questions, comments, and answer any questions they may have and best direct them to the best track. I also help organize casework that the office receives by either sending it to caseworkers that assist constituents in the tenth district, or refer the casework to the proper representative should someone send in something that is not in our district.

There are also various assignments that arise day to day. Sometimes it’s calling back constituents who have left voicemails and assisting them, sometimes its researching for certificates that will be drafted and sent to congressional honorees, greeting constituents who come into the office, I may help organize mail that the office receives via email or by physical mail. I have completed other various tasks as much of what I do depends on who is contacted the office and what our tasks and goals are for the week.

In general, our office is concerned with assisting constituents with their casework needs and keeping up with and reaching out to constituents throughout our entire district. Legislative issues are primarily handled by our office in Washington DC. While we still receive calls from constituents who would like to voice their opinions and the Congressman takes these opinions into consideration while drafting and voting on legislation, we do not typically receive as many of these calls as the DC office does.

My favorite thing that our office did during my time here was the Congressional Art Competition. Students from around the district were given the opportunity to submit artwork that would be voted on and, if deemed the winner, would be displayed in the Cannon tunnel leading into the US Capitol building. I work with the other people in the office to help accomplish their goals and assist them.

Fall 2012

Position: Congressional Intern, Michael McCaul
Student: Economics Sophomore

Working as an intern for Congressman Michael McCaul has been a great experience for me. A few awesome things that I got to do throughout the semester include, attending the congressman’s election watch party at the Four Seasons, congratulate Olympians from the Austin area such as Andy Roddick, as well as getting to be a part of Congressman McCaul’s staff when he became the Chairman of Homeland Security.

Every day working for the congressman was pretty similar to the next, and there was a pretty set schedule. I would get to the office at nine on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the first thing I made sure to do were basic things such as making sure there was paper in the printer, checking the messages etc. Next, I would get settled in at my desk and I would check my email to see what project I had to complete for the day. Sometimes there would be nothing that needed to be completed, so I would get lucky and be able to work on homework or study for a part of the day. I would then begin working on my project whether it be helping to write a speech for the congressman, calling different government offices or planning the congressman’s recess schedule for the weeks he wasn’t in D.C. At some point in the day I would get a lunch break for about an hour, and I could drive anywhere I wanted to eat. When I got back my responsibilities included talking to constituents about their casework whether it be on the phone or in person.

Like I said, working for the congressman has been a great experience for me, and although each congressional office runs things in their own way, I’m sure that any other office would be a great experience as well. This opportunity was definitely a once in a life time deal for me, and I am very glad that I did it.

Spring 2012 

Position: District Intern (Austin), Lloyd Doggett
Student: Government Sophomore

A day in my internship in Congressman Lloyd Doggett’s office consists of various tasks, but may vary depending on the day. Usually we begin by going through the Congressman’s emails, and route those emails to the respective staff members that are to deal with the topic of a given email. If there is an email in regards to Veterans issues, there is someone on staff that specializes in that particular area; if there is an email on case work, we route that email to a caseworker. This process usually consumes the first hour of the day in a usual morning. 

Afterwards we usually go through the “letters to the editor” section of the Austin American Statesman, and go through constituents’ opinions on particular matters. Many times there are letters that refer to an issue that the Congressman might be interested in, so it is our job to make note of such letters.

The last two tasks mentioned are usually typical of everyday, but other days different tasks arise. For example, there are days when postal mail gets returned due to an incorrect address, so it’s our job to go through that mail and correct the addresses in our database. Other days there are no interns working in the Congressman’s office in Washington D.C., so it is our job to go through the emails that they usually go through (the emails received there are different than emails received in the district office). Here I could go on and on about the different administrative tasks that arise because every day is different.

The thing that is always the same in Lloyd Doggett’s district office is that the phones are always ringing! It is the intern’s job to be ready to pick up the phones and talk to the constituents. I will admit that most calls are from people who need to speak specifically with a caseworker or other staff member, so those calls are usually transferred. But when people are not asking for someone by name, they are usually calling to voice their opinions on national matters or are seeking assistance with a particular federal matter. Whatever the issue, it is our responsibility to record that information and listen to the constituent. This part of the internship is the most important, and many of these calls can last upwards of 15 minutes.

Fall 2011

Student: American Studies Senior, Lloyd Doggett
Position: Constituent Services Intern (District Office, Austin)

An internship at Congressman Lloyd Doggett’s office can entail a lot of different duties and tasks, and if you are sincerely interested in learning how a Congressional office functions, then it is a worthwhile internship. I caution those that are looking for a glamorous 12 hours per week to look elsewhere. Most of the interns in the office do the jobs the paid staff does not want to do, which usually centers around dealing with constituents, or voters and the general public.

Interns answer the telephones, log comments received over the phone in the Intranet Quorum database a behemoth software program that interns learn to navigate. IQ has every voter in the district logged into it, so whenever a constituent gives the Congressman his take on policy issues via e-mail, phone, or mail, then interns put these correspondences on the person’s individual record.

Described above is the general Congressional District Office internship. I was lucky enough to secure an internship doing constituent services, or casework. This is another angle of the District Office, helping constituents with their problems with the federal government. I fax constituent concerns and Privacy Releases to Social Security offices and Veterans Affairs Administration offices around Texas, log constituent concerns and steps in their casework file in their IQ profile. I highly suggest those with a strong public service background and also a desire in politics to consider soliciting one of the Austin area Congressional offices to be a casework intern.

Student: Sociology Senior, Lloyd Doggett
Position: Staff Assistant Intern (District Office, Austin)

This fall semester I had the privilege of working in the District Office of Congressman Lloyd Doggett for my internship position. As an intern, I assisted in a wide array of different duties, to include but not limited to: administrative tasks, legislative research, and public service relations. It was required to perform 12 hours of work per week for this internship position, so I opted to do so 4 hours a day, over 3 days a week.

To describe the responsibilities expected of this position, a significant portion of the internship position was the handling communication correspondence between constituents and the Congressman. A significant role was to answer the phone and assist the caller in their needs; ranging from constituent concerns, opinions about certain topics, or questions about casework. Phone communication was the primary method of correspondence, but I also dealt with traditional mail and email communication from constituents. My assistance in constituent correspondence is an important duty of the District Office because this is frequently the first point of contact with Congressman’s staff for constituent services, therefore communication is key. This is also significant in assessing the constituent’s objectives and needs to be able to direct them to the staff member to best serve their needs. Another important duty of this internship was to input data for constituent’s records. This information is important to keep record of the Congressman’s contacts, keep up to date on constituent’s mailing information for supporters to receive mail, to remain current on demographic information, as well as many other benefits.

Spring 2009

Student: Government Senior, Lloyd Doggett
Position: Congressional Intern (Washington, D.C.)

One of the proudest moments of my college career was the first day of my internship when I was given my badge with my name, picture, and the words, “United States House of Representatives.” Interning for a Congressman is a very rewarding and exciting experience. Each day brings new challenges and new rewards. Because of the wide array of interns and tasks, it is almost impossible to describe the “typical” role of an intern; however, there are a few key features that are inherent to all interns in the Office of U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett.

The workday begins at 8:30am each day. The first task is turning the voicemail off and checking the incoming voicemails from the night before, making sure to capture as much information as possible from each message. Then, throughout the day interns answer the incoming phone calls for the office, redirecting calls as necessary and taking messages for the rest. This task is one of the most important and most common tasks in the office. Regardless of other projects or tasks occurring, the phone does not stop and interns are responsible for attending calls.

In addition to answering the phone, interns are given various daily projects from staff members including scanning, copying, data entry, drafting customized constituent responses, redirecting incoming emails, and greeting constituents among many things. All interns are supervised by one staff member with whom they share an office; however, any and all staff members may request the assistance of interns from time-to-time to assist with any on-going projects in which the staff member is engaged. The most important trait of a potential intern is flexibility. The office is ever-changing an someone that can go with the flow and adapt will have the most successful internship experience.

Summer 2008

Position:  Capital Hill Intern (Washington, D.C.), Ted Poe
Student: Government and Philosophy/Plan I Junior

This summer I interned on Capitol Hill with a congressman from Houston. There were numerous other interns on The Hill and although it’s a competitive internship to obtain, it’s certainly one worth pursuing. The exposure one gets to the governmental system and powerful figures in U.S. politics is unparalleled in other internships, and the networking opportunities are nothing short of abundant.

The duties of an intern include sorting mail, answering phones, constituent correspondence, and last but not least, giving Capitol Building tours. Upon arriving in DC, I underwent a week of training. This consisted of classes teaching interns the relatively new program designed by Lockheed Martin to store all the constituent correspondence data. Another class on giving Capitol tours was taken, and yet another (self-conducted) class on the layout of The Hill itself. After the first week, the learning doesn’t stop. Although you have no remaining classes, you are certainly still learning and thinking on your feet; observing your peers (both fellow interns and office staff-members) is the most valuable skill to posses for the first half of your internship. The second half should be spent trying to perfect those skills you learned in the first half.

By week 4, you are well in a system at the office: you get there, you check the schedule for tours and other scheduled events, and you sort the morning mail. This includes passing out mail to the different staff members for whom in pertains. After giving a tour, I would spend the remainder of the day serving as a Legislative Assistant’s aid. Anything that she needed I would do. She was new, and had been backed up quite a bit.

Interning on Capitol Hill is an amazing experience. I recommend it for anyone interested in meeting powerful people and making lasting friendships. It is an invaluable experience in terms of anyone pursuing Government, and can be applied to many other areas of learning as well, I’m sure. Overall, I give my summer experience an A+!


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