Originally published October 4, 2016
By David A. Flores Servin
Summertime is normally perceived as “downtime” for a good portion of my fellow students. More commonly, students enroll in summer school in order to advance in their academic/career path. Then there are those who choose to venture into an internship experience in search for professional and personal growth. This past summer I had the opportunity to intern with the Office of Texas State Senator José Rodriguez.
As a recently declared finance major, my main goal for the summer was acquiring an internship with a company in the private sector. The main reasoning behind this was my search for relevant financial experience as well as networking opportunities. It never really crossed my mind that gaining experience on public policy could benefit a corporate-seeking student such as myself. To my surprise, after meeting the recruiter from the Senator’s office, I was quite interested and curious to learn more about public policy. After the interview process, I realized that the best reward a student can obtain is experience itself. Soon after, I was offered the intern position.
The legislative internship was more inclusive and extensive than what I expected it would be. Within the office there are many areas in which interns can work: public policy, media relations, city committees, projects, press conferences, constituent work and much more. What amazed me was the amount of freedom we were provided to pursue projects of our interest.
As soon as I began the internship, constituent work caught my attention. Being the point of contact and ultimately a nexus to assist constituents with state agencies is quite a challenge. The firsthand relationship that the office has with state agencies made me think of the potential of learning and development that it offers. It dawned on me how clueless I was beforehand about the opportunities public policy offers. I decided to dedicate most of my time to assist the staff member in charge of constituent work.
As my main project, I did an analysis of the casework the office had conducted over the last year. Working directly with my supervisor – UTEP graduate Paulina Lopez – I was able to make use of my analytical skills to create a database that would serve the office even after I left. Working on constituent matters, translating documents and managing the office was a great experience. Not only did I gain knowledge, I met great individuals who became my mentors. The networking opportunities were more than enough to make me appreciate the time I spent working.
If there is something I can recommend to every student, it is to take advantage of the opportunities you are offered. Life is about moments, and our careers are made up of a variety of them. Do not dwell on the idea of the “ideal” internship, for you might be surprised what you experience with one.