Interning for Representative Ryan Guillen



Written by Justin Whitworth


I am spending this semester interning at the capitol office of Representative Ryan Guillen. Representative Guillen represents district 31 which covers all or part of ten counties in south Texas. Currently, the Legislature is not in session so Rep. Guillen spends most of his time at the district office in Rio Grande City. At the office in the capital, there are four interns and we usually work two in the morning and the other two in the afternoon. My typical day usually starts by checking email and the office’s PO Box for any correspondence from constituents. We are tasked with drafting letters and emails in response to any issues a constituent may have. Most are straight forward and do not take much time to handle. However, occasionally we hear from a constituent that has a more complex issue and this is usually escalated to the Policy Advisor or Chief of Staff for the representative. When this happens, the interns in the office are tasked with performing research on policy and pertinent laws in order to try and resolve the issue. When there is no constituent case work to do, the daily tasks are pretty typical for an office setting. Mostly answering or returning phone calls and emails.

Occasionally, when things are especially slow at the office, we are asked to review any drafts that our office was involved with that failed to pass the House. We look at possible reasons for failure and make recommendations for changes that could be made to increase the likelihood of success in the future. This has probably been the most interesting aspect of working in Rep. Guillen’s office. This not only provides useful real world experience in how to properly research and analyze official documents, but I think it is really interesting to see what didn’t pass and why. Most people don’t know that this information is public record.

I think what surprised me most after having worked in the office over the beginning of the semester is how may former military members have issues getting the care and services they are entitled to through the Department of Veterans Affairs. We have probably all heard about how challenging dealing with the VA can potentially be for veterans but it different when you are actually seeing it happen. I am former Army myself and I have been lucky in that my interactions with the VA have gone smoothly without too many hiccups. It is because of this that I was surprised at the prevalence of veterans who either cannot get timely access to services or were just flat out given no guidance in how to effectively navigate the VA system.

Politics and public service is a field that I have been interested in making a career in for some time. While I am sure things would be more lively and fast paced if the legislature were in session, I hope to gain useful experience when it comes to properly researching and implementing policy and tools at your disposal to help those you serve.


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