In 2013, President Dana Hoyt initiated the Sam Houston Austin Internship Program (SHAIP). Since that time, SHSU students have interned in the Texas Legislature for three consecutive legislation sessions, and several students are determined to ensure that the Bearkat streak is extended to four sessions. To that end, four of the students attending the Texas Tribune Festival squeezed in interviews on Thursday. The interviews were of the extended variety, with the legislative offices fitting in office work such as writing, bill analysis, phone skills, learning office equipment, and basic knowledge assessment. In one case, the interview was 2.5 hours!
While final placements are still weeks away, this opportunity gave the students an early taste of what professional interviews entail. The extended nature of the interviews also allowed the students—and the offices—to assess the potential of personality fits between office and intern. It’s a different process than many universities use, but SHAIP offers both the intern and office staff the opportunity to ensure that their time and energy are invested in the best possible fit.
For several of the students involved in the interviews, the nervousness of interviewing was layered with the intrigue of their very first visit to the state capitol.
Visiting the capitol is always an interesting experience; it’s a special treat, though, when your very first time to approach the Capitol is to interview for a job there. Thus for Monica Dike, Jezel Luna, and Maggie Denena, the day’s experience was especially memorable.
But, of course, even repeat visitors—such as Victoria McClendon-Leggett, Ilexus Williams, and Brianna Sabrsula—have fun touring the state’s capitol building….
We entered through the exceptionally tall wooden doors of the Texas capitol and submitted to the usual metal detectors and bag searches that accompany trips to important government buildings. After everyone was given the okay to enter, we walked across the foyer to a statue of our university’s namesake, Sam Houston. It and a statue of Stephen F. Austin both stand and greet visitors and capitol employees every day just inside the south entrance to the capitol building.
The two statues were unveiled in the capitol in 1903, and were completed by famous Texas sculptor and Austin resident Elizabet Ney.
Also in the entrance to the capitol there is hung a rather large painting depicting the capture of Santa Anna after the battle of San Jacinto. Our excellent tour guide—Professor Yawn, forced in to duty—pointed out that in the painting General Sam Houston’s right leg is bandaged, while in reality it was his left leg that was injured in the skirmish. We lingered in the south foyer for just a few more moments before we moved on to the piece de resistance, the rotunda.
The rotunda is both beautiful and intimidating, with its intricate gilded trim rising 266 feet above the floor. On each floor immediately surrounding the dome, along the walls are hung portraits of former governors, in chronological order starting with the oldest at the top and winding their way down towards the most recent.
We were able to peek into both the House and Senate chambers, which we had all to ourselves because the next legislative session does not start until January 8, 2019. W
e also visited the rooms which once housed the Texas Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals.
Before we left, we also had the opportunity to explore the library, which contains thousands of books, law journals, and House Bills passed during the former legislative sessions. We also had a nice surprise: we ran into a friend of SHSU and the LEAP Center, Chief Justice Tom Gray. Justice Gray was in the building on business, but he stopped to talk to us…
…to say “hi” to familiar faces (Victoria) and to greet new ones (everyone else!). The LEAP Ambassadors have long worked with him on bringing the 10th Court of Appeals to SHSU each spring, and it was a nice treat to see him again.
The Texas State Capitol is such a beautiful building with a rich history that matches that of our state, and it was crazy to think that some among us would soon be working there!
Kerbey Lane Café, Monica Dike
After leaving the capitol, those of us that weren’t still interviewing had lunch at the Kerbey Lane Café. A couple of us had never heard of the place, but it’s a favorite among the LEAPsters that have gone there before. When we walked in, the host greeted us with a bright smile and a clever shirt stating: “Don’t go bacon my heart,” which we chuckled at. Once seated, I noticed that the menu contained a variety of options for lunch and even an all-day breakfast. As an appetizer we all shared the chips and queso and tried the roasted brussels sprouts. I wasn’t sure how well I would like the brussels sprouts, but once they came out and I tried them, I found them absolutely delicious!
I ordered a cheeseburger, which I thought would be a pretty simple meal, but when it arrived, it was twice as big as I expected! It was delicious, although I couldn’t possibly eat it all. Victoria and Stephanie had chili and cornbread, Brianna had breakfast tacos, and Elena–our least adventurous eater–had chicken. All enjoyed their meal, and we left content we can return anytime for delicious fare.
Texas Tribune Festival and Secretary John Kerry.
Trying to find parking in a large city Austin is very much like trying to find a needle in a haystack! After a bit of roaming around in an attempt to find a parking garage within walking distance, we made our way over a block or two to The Moody Theater to hear The Texas Tribune’s opening keynote speaker, former Secretary of State John Kerry. We walked down the sidewalk and around to the entrance of ACL Live where we spotted Austin’s favorite musician Willie Nelson—albeit in statue form.
We quickly found our seats as the The Texas Tribune’s editor-in-chief and also our moderator for the evening, Evan Smith, began introducing Kerry.
The questions flowed smoothly as John Kerry was asked about current events and current scandals.
Kerry’s experience and knowledge were impressive, and he discussed them with a depth we can hope to achieve one day. John Kerry acknowledged that we should be concerned for the future in some areas like climate change, but also suggested that we needed to make changes happen today.
Kerry was very insightful as he discussed his reasons for writing his autobiography “Every Day Is Extra.” Kerry himself called it a detailed book communicating all his accomplishments from the beginning, as well as why he believes our democracy is broken today. When asked if he was considering running for President in 2020, he refused to give the audience a direct answer, instead choosing to “neither confirm nor deny” whether he was considering it or not. Smith pressed him on this issue, and Kerry pressed back, refusing to respond. (Disappointingly, that was actually the only issue that Smith pressed Kerry on.)
There was also a section for audience questions, which alternated between interesting and redundant.
The interview soon came to close–with a call to get out and vote! But the evening was not over.
One of our very own, Victoria, got the opportunity to briefly meet the former secretary as he signed her book.
And even that did not end the evening. Victoria ran into the moderator Evan Smith, where she had a chance to discuss things…
…and got a photo…
And with that, the event concluded, as did our first day of The Texas Tribune Festival.