I have been working as an intern at Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office for almost a month now, and it has been an unexpected experience. The jobs and internships I have had prior to this have been definite learning experiences, but I have felt as if I were not a necessary member of the company. This is not so working in Senator Hutchison’s office!

With any entry-level internship there is a certain requirement of basic tasks that must be accomplished. However, I was surprised at the fast-paced atmosphere that a regional senatorial office can transform into instantly.

In my Intro to Government and Politics class, I got a basic sense of what goes on in a Senator’s office, and up to my start date I was under the impression that senators made legislative votes on bills and, as I quote Professor Dennis Simon, “Helping to get Grandma her missing Social Security checks.” It did not take long for me to realize how important these regional offices were.

During one day’s time I can be answering phone calls to take comments from constituents, reading news articles to become more informed of issues related to Texas and the Senator, and sorting through casework to help anyone from immigrants to babies in need of health care.

Involved citizens

This internship has also instilled a sense of appreciation for those who actually pay attention to the actions of the government. I grew up watching late-night shows such as Jay Leno, where they interview random people on the street who could not name the vice president or the capital of their own state. In my classes I have been told that a majority of the population is not informed as to how the government actually works, nor do they care.

However, I receive calls every day from private citizens who have questions or comments regarding Senate bills which I have to look up to reference. This has instilled in me a sense of pride in Americans, that there are people outside the political arena who do take time to research and make personal decisions regarding issues affecting the country.

Real-world learning

Although it is sometimes exhausting to be working 17 hours a week on top of a 15-hour course load, I am enjoying every minute. I feel that this internship has taught me so much in the one month I have worked there, things I could never have learned by merely taking a class.

I look forward to the semester with excitement and humility because, although it will be exhausting at times, it will be one of my best experiences.