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What does a Legislative Intern do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 22 January 2018
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A legislative intern works on a legislator's staff, providing support which enables the legislator to do his or her job more effectively. Legislators are responsible for the drafting and discussing of new legislation in addition to advocacy for individual constituents, and legislative interns assist with both of these things. Most legislatures have internship programs which may be open to college students, college graduates, and even high school students, depending on the program. The application process is quite competitive.

Sometimes, a legislative intern works in a regional office, rather than being assigned to the capital to work directly with the legislator. Regional legislative interns interact with the local constituency. They help constituents access services, bring concerns from the community to the attention of the legislator, respond to specific requests for assistance, and liaise with the local community to build strong relationships between the legislator and the community. When the legislator visits, the legislative intern may make arrangements for events which will happen during the visit. Local interns also write press releases, respond to letters from local constituents, and assist the full time staff at the local office with other tasks.

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When assigned to the capital, legislative interns are often involved in legislative research, including contacting witnesses, bill tracking, and seeking out information to support or oppose a position which the legislator will take on the floor. Legislative interns can also be involved in the preparation of presentations. They often write newsletters and press releases, respond to requests from constituents, and answer phones in the office.

A legislative intern may also work with government officials. A legislator cannot be everywhere at once, and interns are often trusted with making contact with officials and organizing communications. Likewise, legislative interns interact with the offices of other legislators to discuss everything from cosponsoring bills to arranging joint tours of areas or facilities of interest.

The work of a legislative intern is quite varied. Hours can sometimes be long, especially when major bills are being pushed through. Interns are expected to retain a professional demeanor at all time, and to provide a wide variety of services. They are also often thrown into the deep end of the pool when they start work, which can be stressful; interns are expected to know how to perform a variety of tasks no matter how much experience they have when they start work. It helps to identify a mentor who can help a new intern learn the ropes.

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