Liberal Arts Career Services
Liberal Arts Career Services

Texas Senate

Summer 2019

Position: Intern, Senator Jane Nelson
Student: Anthropology Senior

The Capitol has two different sides, one side is a bustling scene of lobbyists and interest groups delivering speeches advocating for a specific cause, phones that never stop ringing with concerned constituents asking questions and sharing their opinion, and staff running around trying to get the bills that they have worked on for months passed. The other side depicts a quiet office, the phones ringing less frequently, state officials returning to their home district, and staff feeling a sense of relief since session has concluded. Both sides have one thing in common, an intern at the desk answering phone calls from constituents, following bills, and helping staff members with whatever they need.

Working at Senator Nelson’s office means that you are working for the people of Senate District 12, and it is my role as an intern to help staff members organize legislation, communicate with constituents who call or visit the office, and relay to the Senator and staff what constituents are concerned about or need help with. If constituents call into the office with specific questions or seeking help, it is my job to research that specific topic and gather any relevant information that will answer the question at hand or will help lead the caller in the right direction to find help.

Throughout my time at the office, I have inputted correspondence into the computer management system, organized pieces of legislation and notes that are passed onto Senator Nelson while she is on the Senate floor or in a committee meeting, and I have also run errands to other state representatives’ offices to gather pertinent information. I have easily balanced my internship and school schedule, and the staff has been supportive of my studies and my future plans. Overall, I have found my internship at Senator Nelson’s office to be a worthwhile experience both during session and interim, and I would recommend this internship to my peers.

 

Fall 2017

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

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

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

Spring 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Position: Legislative Internship, Senator Menendez
Student: Government Junior

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

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

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

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

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

Fall 2016  

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

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

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

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

 


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