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.

 


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    University of Texas at Austin
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    Austin, Texas 78712-1508
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