This past term, as part of the requirements to graduate from Oregon State with a degree in Political Science, I have been interning at the State Capitol for Senator Brian Boquist of Dallas. This internship has been an amazing experience and I am going to tell you all a little bit about how I got the internship, what I have been doing and lastly some advice for those reading who are looking for an internship.
I had been applying to many different law firms looking for an internship but nothing was very successful. I had received a few interviews but did not receive any offers so I decided to broaden my search. At about this time as well, I became very good friends and roommates with one of Senator Boquist’s sons. He helped me make the connection with Senator Boquist. Last term (fall) I emailed the Senator and we worked out a schedule. I started working at the Capitol at beginning of winter term.
At the Capitol I have been doing a little bit of everything. The first few weeks I was working mostly with the Republican Caucus office. This is because the short legislative session had not started so the Senator did not have a lot of work for me to do. The Caucus office had me helping to write a memo to be sent out to the Republican Caucus on some bills and I did some organizational work for the Caucus. Once the legislative session started Senator Boquist has been giving me various jobs. One of my main jobs is to respond to constituent emails. At first this seems to be a dull task but it is actually quite interesting. I get to see what people are thinking about bills and then must find a way to respond to them in a positive way without telling them how the Senator actually will vote on the bill, even if I know he will vote in the opposite way the person wants. I also perform a lot of research. There are over a hundred bills going through this short legislative session, therefore the Senators do not always know what exactly the details are on every bill. For this reason, I research bills to find their content, the impact they could have on the state and where the bill is in the legislative process, meaning is the bill on the House side or the Senate side, is it in committee or out of committee. Lastly I do any administrative business that needs to be taken care of such as printing or making packets of information on bills. Overall my internship is very diverse and exciting. There is always something to do or a problem to solve.
If you are looking for an internship here are some suggestions I have. First, Have a broad search. Be open to doing various things. Look at government agencies and organizations, non-profits and private sector internships. The skills you learn in one can be used in all areas. Secondly, Work the connections you have. Ask friends, family, professors and your advisor for any opportunities they may know of. They may be of great help in finding an internship, they were for me. Thirdly, Use other OSU resources as well to find internships look at list serves and Beaver Job Net. Some excellent opportunities pop up on those types of emails or websites. Lastly when you do get that internship make sure to dive into the experience. Go in with an open mind and willing to learn because if you put effort into the internship you will learn many useful skills.
Good luck on your internship search and future internships.