Getting Lost in The Capitol of Texas

Written by Kimberly Foo

This semester I am a Legislative Aide at the Capitol of Texas for District 115 located in Dallas. I came across this internship this past summer when I was working as a finance intern for a campaign firm. Through the campaign firm, I attended various events in which I met Representative Johnson. I  truly connected with the change she was working towards accomplishing along with the people on her team who were extremely welcoming.

Representative Johnson is an attorney who has experience in both owning her own firm and working in politics. In the future, I would like to go to law school and own my own firm, or work on capitol hill. I felt that working in her office could not only help me better my skills in the office, but I could also get advice and insight on how to pursue my career goals through mentorship from someone that has done it already. This internship has also given me an insight on the ins and outs of what it takes to create legislation.

Each day, my responsibilities vary depending on what my Representative’s schedule looks like. For the most part, I have been doing research on mass violence and gun reform. This experience has been extremely eye opening, because it is a topic I have never personally informed myself on to this extent.

Everyday, we speak to constituents, lobbyists, and with our proper staff. The organizational structure is dependent on current events and what Representative Johnson has going on that week. For the most part, every task has a deadline and specific needs to be met. A unique aspect of my internship is that there are only two interns including myself and our supervisor. I have not met the other intern, and am only with my supervisor throughout my work time. It’s a very one on one based relationship where communication is direct, and if there are any questions or ideas that come up, I can tell my boss right there and then. Since we are in the interim, the work load is not as extensive and there is fewer people to talk to. This has taken some adjusting for me, because I have experience working in another State Representatives office during the 8th Legislative Session and I was always busy with things that needed to get done as soon as possible. With the interim going on, and not having much staff in the office at the same time, the culture is very calm and at our own pace for the most part.

My specific responsibilities consist of doing a lot of research over mass violence in Texas. I’ve had to learn more about how social media and law enforcement work together to control threats on various social platforms. I have had to research information over background checks when purchasing a firearm, and all of the steps and procedures that pertain to that. It has been very interesting in my perspective, because I have never known all that this topic entails. It has become extremely relevant in our lives today, especially in Texas where multiple shootings have occurred. Along with research, I also have to do more of the usual office work. I have to check the mail each day, answer the phone, greet visitors when they enter the office, and also input all information that comes in and out of the office into the legislative software, such as: legislative management system and correspondence management system. Knowing how to do these tasks has given me the confidence and ability to take initiative when needed, instead of always being asked to do something. My supervisor has been great at letting me go at my own pace, while providing realistic deadlines. I appreciate her trust in my time-management skills, work ethic, knowledge, and ability to produce good work.

The work that I am doing now is very tedious and it takes a lot of time. I have to come up with questions as I do my research that could come up in future hearings. The topic of mass violence in Texas is finally being touched upon, and many people have strong opinions, personal experiences, and uncertainty within various communities that it’s prevalent in. With my experience at the Capitol of Texas, I hope to build connections, and learn as much as possible about policy in not only topics and issues that I’m passionate about, but other areas that I may not fully understand or relate to. I am hoping to expand my perspective and knowledge. My goal for this upcoming summer is to intern on Capitol Hill and I believe that with the experience I am gaining now, it will give me an advantage in learning the smallest of things like basic office work to literature and policies that affect individuals directly. Thankfully, I have gained interpersonal, time-management, self-motivation, decision making, and adaptability skills. This is the first time where I am not really working with a team or another individual that is not my direct boss. It has taken time to adjust, because it can get very quiet in the office, and I have to motivate myself to dive deeper into the things I am doing on my own. During this position I have gained self-confidence in my work and communication between visitors and my supervisor. I hope to better my skills to the point where I feel 100 percent comfortable in what I know intellectually and what I know how to do physically.

Thus far, the project I have been focussing on is providing information over the mass violence committee. The representatives have had 3 hearings in the past months and I have been told that the research and questions I’ve presented are well thought-out and well written. I will continue to do this for the following hearings until December when they will come to a final decision on what to do to help fellow Texans in regard to mass violence. I am excited to see the positive impact that will be created in the near future.

Overall, my internship experience has challenged me to push myself to work hard towards where I want to be short term and long-term after I graduate college.  I would like to become and attorney and work either at The Capitol of Texas as a State Representative or on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.




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