Liberal Arts Career Services
Liberal Arts Career Services

U.S. Senate

Summer 2017

Position: Congressional Intern, Ted Cruz
Student: Government Junior

I spent the summer of 2017 interning with United States Senator Ted Cruz’s Central Texas Office. Having worked in congressional offices before, I sort of knew what to expect; but, this was my first internship with a United States Senator. The guy represents 27 million Texans, so I knew the workload would be a lot heavier, but I still was not sure what to expect. A typical day in my life as an intern from 9am – 4pm, in which I played various roles and handled a variety of tasks throughout the day. The absolute very first thing I did everyday was check in with my supervisor and ask what was on the agenda for the day, given that there are many of the different tasks we have done this summer. She would give me the run down for the day and then I would settle into my desk and start my day. One of the tasks that is ongoing from the moment you step into the office, from the moment you leave, is answering phones. Representing 27 million Texans, Senator Cruz’s office tends to receive a high volume of calls, also given the fact that he has become a national figure after the 2016 Presidential Race. Most of the calls were from constituents, wanting to get answers to questions they may have, voice their concerns, or get assistance with a federal agency. Being in the casework hub office, there were a lot of casework related phone calls. Besides phones, the daily tasks ranged from opening mail to folding flags to drafting letters to local officials. One of the most rewarding tasks I helped with were the Academy Nominations, helping outstanding kids fulfill their dreams of serving our country. The most heartbreaking tasks were the condolence letters, knowing that that young man or woman died serving our country breaks my heart for their parents. Overall, there was not a single day that went by where I did not learn something new or have the chance to grow professionally and spiritually. It is a very humbling experience to talk to Texans experiencing some of the hardships in life and being able to assist them in getting help with a federal agency. 

Spring 2015

Position: Federal Senate Office Intern, Ted Cruz
Student: Government Freshman

A typical day at Senator Ted Cruz’s Federal Office starts by figuring out what you’re assigned to that day. There are three possible options, outreach, casework, or phones. Outreach involves doing tasks that connect the Senator’s office to the people of Texas. Sometimes you look through small town newspapers to find honorable Texans to recognize. Other times you research incidents in Texas in order to have a better understanding of how constituents are feeling or perceiving an issue.

Casework involves working with a specific caseworker on whatever they need help with. Often casework entails going through old cases and making sure that they have been properly closed and that all parties involved are satisfied. It often involves reading letters from constituents requesting help and trying to figure out how you can help them. Caseworkers love to answer questions about the issues they deal with and the agencies they work with. A lot of casework issues are complicated and involve a thorough understanding of policy, which is extremely useful to know.

Phones, my personal favorite, always leads to a very interesting day. When there’s a low volume of calls, you have a chance to independently research current affairs. There are always plenty of articles to read and readings for the internship to keep you occupied between calls. Hearing from the people of Texas is very interesting because there is such a wide range of opinions. When someone calls with a question, you answer it on behalf of the Senator using talking points or press releases.

Position: Intern, Ted Cruz
Student: Government Junior

A typical day in the life at the office of United States Senator Ted Cruz usually begins with checking your senate email account in order be up to date on any pressing issues that might make a difference when answering phone calls and talking to constituents.

After scanning through any new or relevant emails, I will usually scan different news outlets in order to have a broad context about any current issues happening in the United States or abroad. Keeping up with current events is one of the most important aspects of this internship, because if you are unable to provide factual information to constituents, you are of very little use to the process. Constituents who pay taxes deserve an office that runs efficiently and that can provide them with a medium for information as well as a place to voice their concerns and opinions to their Congressman.

On the other end of the spectrum, there is, of course, regular office work that involves making copies, faxing, organizing, etc. This is also important to the process because each liaison at the office deals with a specific category of people. On these days, the Intern is assigned to “casework.” This casework simply involves helping the respective liaison with their own personal work. With the large number of constituents within Texas, it is easy for these liaisons to get bogged-down with cases, so I am confident the availability of an Intern to help with their work is a relief.

Fall 2013

Position: United States Senate Intern Program, John Cornyn
Student: Government, Sophomore

A day in the senator’s office begins at 9:00am in the Chase Tower downtown Austin, Texas. Punctuality is important and I am always greeted every morning with smiles, hello’s and how was your weekend? I usually put my things down at my desk and am greeted by the internship coordinator. Depending on how busy we are that day we will dive into whatever is necessary. The day starts with doing press clips, which are a gathering of news articles important to Central Texas. Articles related to agriculture, environment, local politics, finances and education are just a few of the important pieces to grab. After the news clips are done for the day the intern is usually put to work with whatever is going on that day.  The fall interns will be mainly responsible for helping with service academy nominations. Every year high school students who want to apply to service academies such as West Point, Naval Academy, Air Force Academy or Merchant Marine Academy need a nomination from a congressman, vice president or president. Over the course of just a few months we receive over six hundred applications that need to be sorted, filed, organized and much more. This all leads up to a board meeting in November to decide who the Senator will give nominations to. While working on any project the phones are a priority.  Constituents call on a daily basis in high numbers when there is political dilemma on the line. On average the Austin office will take about fifty phone calls a week, however, leading up to the government shutdown with Obamacare we took over seven hundred phone calls that week. Daily talking points are given to be able to adequately converse with constituents on important matters. It is important to not speak for the Senator or take any press calls but to just stick to the talking points and statements the Senator has already released. On off days the intern is there to be the support for everyone else. Phone calls, shredding documents, stuffing envelopes and running to the mailbox are all things that you could be responsible for. It is nice to work in such a professional environment and see the inner working of the Senate.

Fall 2009

Postion: Service Academy Nomination Intern, John Cornyn
Student: Plan II Junior 

The fall undergraduate internship at Senator John Cornyn’s Austin office is an internship in the federal government sector. The fall intern is mainly concerned with the U.S. Service Academy Nominations Process. The internship is a positive experience and provides and interesting opportunity to get a “behind-the-scenes” view of governmental operations. The internship requires basic knowledge of current events, self-motivation and attention to detail.

Outside of the Academy Nominations Process, interns assist with constituents. This involves answering constituent’s calls which may come in the form of questions or comments for Senator Cornyn. When an intern receives a comment for the Senator, the intern enters the data into a system called InterTrac. Interns should stay up-to-date with current events in order to understand the nature of each call.  Interns are also responsible for opening and filing all mail and faxes.

Senator Cornyn nominates Texas students to attend U.S. Service Academies (i.e. Air Force Academy). Interns work with and take direction from the Academy Coordinator.  Students send in application packets which contain essays, test scores, recommendations, etc. in a process that is similar to college admissions. Interns enter all data in InterTrac and then file the paper documents in the office. Interns send thank-you letters to constituents who write recommendations. Also, interns are responsible for informing students as to the status of their packets through mail. When the application deadline passes, interns assist with preparations for the Academy Board meeting, an event at which a board Academy graduates assist the Senator in nominating students. Interns are expected to attend the day-long meeting to prepare and organize all materials, enter data, and answer any questions in regards to the protocol of the selection process.

Position: Government Intern, Kay Bailey Hutchinson
Student: History Junior

The duties of an intern at the Austin office of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison include answering phones, sorting the mail, making copies, filing, monitoring media mentions of the senator as well as clipping the newspaper. The interns will also assist the caseworkers and other staff members with special projects.

A day in the life of an intern will begin with clipping the articles marked by the staff assistant as well as the mentions of the senator.Then the clips will be faxed up to the Washington Office. The intern will then need to check the voicemail and register the constituents’ comments in the congressional database inter track. After the other offices have uploaded their clips to the computer drive, the intern will print all of the clips and bring them to the state director.

When the mail arrives, it's the intern's responsibility to open the mail, sort it and get it to the respective places or recipients. After the mail is sorted, the invitations need to be copied and faxed to the Washington office while the original copies are sent to the correct regional director’s office.After the mail is completed, the intern is now free to assist the other staff members with various projects. The projects might include things like filing, entering data into inter track, and copying.

Spring 2009

Position: Communications/Press (Washington, D.C.), Kay Hagan
Student: Government Senior

Working in Senator Hagan’s office has been a terrific experience. Since the office is brand new and still getting set up, it is hard to describe a typical day as it will be for future interns. But I did have certain tasks and responsibilities.

Working in the press office was a great experience for me since I did not have to spend time answering the phones and sorting mail. Though these are important parts of keeping an office running, I did not feel like this sort of work would be the best choice for me in Washington. Since I was a part of a smaller team I was also delegated more responsibility. My hours were typically 9 am to 6 pm, but some days went later than others.

An important part of my job was keeping contact lists updated. Though this might sound boring and administrative, it is actually a great way to become completely familiarized with the states’ media outlets and markets. Calling through various papers, TV and radio stations periodically also allowed me to make connections with reporters around the state.

I was also responsible for maintaining a “best of” news clips document that was used to keep the website updated. The best of list was also used to create packets to send to editorial boards around the state to highlight what the Senator had been doing in DC and back in the state.

Writing press releases and media advisories was a part of my job, depending on the subject matter. The press secretary typically wrote the policy-heavy releases, but I was assigned a good number of releases. Finally, it was my job to monitor the news throughout the day to ensure we were not falling behind on responding to any stories or potential issues. The Senator is expected to release statements on the day’s biggest stories and developments, and it is imperative that the press team has a finger on the pulse of the news.

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