It was a nice day at the Capitol building. LEAP Center students visited the Texas Legislature to learn more about the operation of the Texas Legislature. With the help of Scott Jenkines, Representative Armando “Mando” Martinez’s Chief of Staff, they learned quite a lot.
Most House offices, according to Jenkines, have a Chief of Staff positions, a District Director/Administrator, a Policy Director, and a Staff Associate, although these positions may be fully filled only during the session. There are also committee staff positions available. Senators, with five times the number of constituents as House members, have additional staff. Both the House and the Senate offices offer internships, and an SHSU student, Bianca Kyle, worked for Jenkines during the last session (Spring 2013).
Jenkines spent considerable time discussing expectations of interns and their duties. He praised Kyle, whom he indicated was more of a “Staff Associate than an intern,” noting that she was “a natural” with constituents. Jenkines, who has worked with more than sixty interns in the legislature, expects interns to be on time, to be professionally dressed, and to maintain a good attitude with both staff and the public.
As Chief of Staff, Jenkines allows interns to represent the office at various functions and even attend committee meetings on behalf of the office (Rule: “If you go, you have to stay the entire time”.) For more technical skills, he trains the student and, in fact, typically offers them the chance to initiate research in a policy area.
SHSU Business Major Jessica Rodriguez, who is interested in becoming an Austin Intern, asked Jenkines what kind of policy work a student might be engaged in. Jenkines allows interns to attend Committee hearings, but he does have a rule: “If you go, you have to stay the whole time.” Moreover, Jenkines typically allows students to initiate research in a policy area.
“We’ve had great support from the offices in which we’ve placed interns,” noted Mike Yawn, Director of the Austin Internship Program. “Students have had the chance to work on policy, plan events, and see the process up close. We’re very grateful for the offices that have helped us place the SHSU interns.”
Note: Sam Houston’s Austin Internship Program, which began in the 2013 session, has placed students in the following offices:
- Representative Dan Branch
- Representative Armando Martinez
- Representative John Otto
- Representative Senfronia Thompson
- Senator Charles Schwertner
- Representative Mary Gonzalez
- Representative Borris Miles