Liberal Arts Career Services
Liberal Arts Career Services

Texas House of Representatives

Fall 2019

Position: Legislative Intern, Representitive Mary Gonzalez
Student: IRG Junior

I look forward to starting my days at the Texas State Capitol. Every day I approach the building and am in awe of not only the architecture but also the work that happens within the halls. There are people constantly working to draft legislation or hold meetings to create solutions to the issues that are facing Texans every day. Even in the interim, there is always a meeting to attend or work to be accomplished. My day to day in the office is always slightly different based on the needs of that day or the events that took place while I was away.

Typically, I will spend the first thirty minutes to an hour looking at the news and drafting social media posts on the important events or updates that have been reported. Then, I will send those posts to Caroline, the Chief of Staff, for approval and she will either send edits/additions or inform me they are good to send to Representative González for final approval. Next, I will prioritize the projects that need to be accomplished. Our office rule of thumb is that there is a two-week grace period to respond to constituent letters, so I will read over the new letters or those pending approval. If there is a new letter, I will usually draft a response to new letters and send them for approval, which is the same process as social media posts.

Next, after those daily tasks are completed, I will begin working on larger projects that span over multiple days and require communication with different organizations or offices. Recently, I have worked with the Texas Water Development Board to write a report on the Municipal Utility Districts in the El Paso area and the unique way they function. Additionally, I am currently researching information for a bill that would mimic a law being implemented in New Mexico during the coming years.

The needs of Representative González’s constituents are rapidly changing, and thus, my responsibilities and priorities are constantly shifting. I have learned a lot about how the government operates, the role of representatives, and the importance of flexibility and adaptability. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Representative González’s office and my day to day tasks. 

Position: Legislative Intern, Ryan Guillen
Student: Economics Senior

I am currently working as a legislative intern for State Representative Ryan Guillen. As a legislative intern, I am tasked with aiding and drafting legislation, researching casework, and corresponding with constituents. I work onsite with the Texas Legislature at the Texas Capitol Building in Austin, Texas.

As a legislative intern, I work four days each week for a total of 12-15 hours each week from September to December. I work alongside 7 other interns, our chief of staff, our administrative director, our legislative director, and the representative himself. Typically, my day begins at 8am. As I am the first person in the office each morning, I check our mailboxes upon arriving at the Capitol. After I return to our office, I check Correspondence Management System (the Texas Legislature standard correspondence program) to see my newly assigned casework. Casework is assigned by our administrative director, who receives it via communication from constituents. I then research the issue assigned to me and draft a proposal for how to remedy the situation. I submit the draft to our administrative director for approval, and then prepare a final draft of a response or legal action to take to resolve the situation. After completing casework, I am often assigned tasks such as bill review or research by our chief of staff. This frequently entails completing deep dive research on topics that our representative is trying to get legislation passed on. Additionally, as an intern, I am tasked with constituent correspondence. This can take the form of answering phone calls or letters from constituents who reach out to our office, managing our office’s social media accounts, or sending condolence letters to families in our district who have lost loved ones.

Overall, working as a legislative intern for Representative Guillen has been a valuable learning experience. I value the strong writing and research skills that I have acquired while working in our office and know that they will prepare me well for a future career in law.

Position: Senior Intern, Michael McCaul
Student: Government Senior

Since June, I have been interning in the Austin office of Congressman Michael McCaul who represents Texas’s 10th District. Rep.McCaul has been in congress for over 16 years and has served as the chairman of several committees including the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the House Committee on Homeland Security.  The 10th congressional district covers sections of Austin, Houston and the majority of the area in between these two cities. Our district contains 4 congressional offices in Austin, Houston, Brenham and Tomball.

The Austin office is the flagship office of the congressman. As is such, it is imperative that staff dress appropriately in a suit attire on a daily basis. Throughout my internship, I would find myself seldom without a dress shirt and tie on. While we have a variety of tasks, our main duty is to facilitate communication between constituents and the representative. On a typical day, an intern in the Austin office will perform the following:

When I arrive into the office my first duty is to email out a district news summary. Our staff cares a great deal on what goes on in our district, therefore interns are tasked with researching articles from local news sources. My favorite sources include the Austin American Statesman, the Houston Chronicle and the Brenham Banner. The next daily task would be to process the voicemails and mail. Voicemails generally include comments left for the representative that are logged into a database. Mail will include various invitations, constituent comments and casework that is processed accordingly. When these three main tasks are completed, staff will then task interns with other pieces of work they need assistance with.

Generally, our staff is quite considerate to interns and allows us to do work of interest to us.

 

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. 

 


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