Interning at the State Capitol 101

Posted on Friday, Feb 10, 2017

As a college student in her senior year I was not quite prepared for the 8-5 adult life when I first began this internship. However, it has only been a few weeks now and I can confidently say that I have not been late for work once. Considering none of my classes have been 8am since freshman year I would say I am doing pretty well. The coffee helps immensely though.

Before I began this internship I didn’t quite know what to expect. Was I going to be just making the boss coffee and answering phone calls? Was I going to be doing nothing but observing? Or was I going to be actually working on legislation and engaging in the political process? The first few days on the job was mostly just observing and learning what all to say and do, but after that my supervisor let me loose. I have been talking with constituents, doing case work, as well as filing my own bills for the representative.  I feel like even though this internship has barely started I have already learned more in my first three weeks than I ever would have by just reading about it. Most of the things I have learned so far have come from observing, asking questions, as well as doing my own research. Not everything is explained fully to you and you have to be able to decipher what is being asked of you. You always need to be on your toes in this job.

The staff in my office are great too! I feel very lucky with the office I was placed in, because not only have they both been very helpful in showing me the ropes of my day to day tasks, they have also made the office a very friendly and comfortable environment.  There is always witty banter being shouted through the office. That is unless the representative is present and then it is much more of a serious tone. Sometimes it is just me and the two other staff members working together. With it being just the three of us in the office I have gotten to know them pretty well so far. I think being in a good friendly environment at work has made this a great experience all ready.

When my representative is at the capitol he is always either on the house floor, in the office, or wondering around aimlessly, nowhere to be found. More the latter than anything though, he loves to keep us guessing. He is always on the go and uses his time very wisely. Before starting this internship I really didn’t understand what it took to be a state representative but as I've been here and learned more about my representative's job and responsibilities it amazes me so much more. To have the ability to be gone for 140 days a year from your job (and a lot of times your family) and to get paid nearly nothing for it, is something most people would not be able to do. But that means so much more to me. To me that means that these people come here, and work hard for their constituents because they truly want to help them and work to make Texas a better place. Seeing my representative strive to do that every time he is in the office really motivates me to work harder, so one day maybe I can be where he is.

Samantha Durand
Office of State Representative Greg Bonnen
Austin, Texas