(PRESS RELEASE) In 2013, six Sam Houston State University students spent a semester in the Texas Legislature, where they assisted lawmakers in interacting with constituents and lobbyists, researching policy issues, and learning about the legislative process as part of the inaugural Austin Internship Program.
Those who participated called working with the 83rd Legislature “an incredible eye-opener” and “the best experience I’ve had in my college career.”
This fall, the program is opening its application process for the second Austin Internship Program, giving another crop of Bearkats the opportunity to work with the 84th Texas Legislature in the spring of 2015.
Between six and 10 of SHSU’s top students from all academic majors will have the opportunity to earn up to 12 hours of academic credit while receiving hands-on learning and exploring high-level occupations in the state capital.
The internships will span the 84th Texas Legislative Session, beginning on Jan. 10 and extending through June 1.
Students will work full-time, giving them the opportunity to learn about the legislative process, gain professional skills and maximize their exposure to a professional work environment.
“Sam Houston is looking for top students to be part of this program,” said political science professor Mike Yawn, who is coordinating the program. “The legislature wants students with a strong mix of academic and professional skills. In turn, the students have an amazing opportunity to expand their professional networks, apply and enrich their academic learning, and observe the political world up close.”
The university will also sponsor an orientation on campus with officials in human resources, financial aid and career development so students can understand the issues they would face in the business world; an orientation session in Austin will also be hosted to familiarize the interns with “the lay of the land” and meet with SHSU alumni who live or work in the Austin area who could share tips about services available.
Students selected for the program will receive generous scholarships from SHSU, which cover most or all of the students’ basic living expenses, according to Yawn.
The university also works hard to ensure that the right students were placed with offices in Austin, Yawn said.
“Last session’s interns were a great group of students with diverse majors and ideologies. We tried to match them with the offices that worked well for them—and vice-versa,” he said. “We hope to place good students in offices that would allow them to learn and contribute, and it worked out well for everyone during the first Austin Internship Program in the spring of 2013.”
The program is open to students of all majors, who will be selected for the program based on, among other things, their academic performance, responsibility and professionalism, the internship’s connection to the student’s career goals, and the student’s fit with specific legislative offices.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students, and the university is committed to working with the interns to provide resources necessary to their success,” Yawn said. “We want this to be a winning experience for the students and the legislative offices.”
While placements will be made on a rolling basis, Yawn encourages students to act now. Applications are available online starting Sept. 3 and are due no later than the first of October.
“Most legislative offices have finalized session staffing by the middle of December, so it’s important for students to move quickly,” he said.
Interested students should contact Yawn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 936.294.1456 for an application or to discuss the program further. Applications and additional information are available at shsu.edu/austin-internship-program.