Inside Texas Tech: Students Intern in D.C., Earn Valuable Experience

Many Texas Tech students complete an internship before graduation, to gain valuable experience in their chosen field. For students aspiring to work in politics or government, there is one special opportunity for Red Raiders.

Each semester, including summer sessions, up to 19 lucky students are chosen for the Government and Public Service Internship program. These student go to Washington, D.C. for the term and work directly with congress and senate members.

Caleb Fisher, a graduate student at Texas Tech, was chosen to participate in the internship last summer. Under Blake Farenthold, congressman from the 27th District of Texas, Fisher learned the ins and outs of political life.

Picture by Martin Falbisoner.

“Right from the get go, they were just like, ‘Okay, sit down, the phone will start ringing, you’ll start answering it, and talking to constituents and voters,’ and all this stuff,” Fisher said, “and I was like ‘Wait, what?’ And it was definitely a learn-as-you-go process.”

Fisher said he was primarily responsible for answering phones, giving office tours, and running errands, like many interns. But, this internship has some special perks.

“A lot of intern type duties. Like, you’d have to run errands, and mail and go co-sponsors’ signatures to different congressmen and stuff, which a lot of interns complained about, but gosh, I loved it,” Fisher said. “Because you’re like walking the hallways of the capital, and you’d cross paths with Paul Ryan and all of these big congressmen that were people you see on TV, and you’d just kind of cross paths with them and be star struck.”

While in Washington, D.C., Texas Tech students get to live two blocks away from the Capitol in what is known as the Tech House. The renovated office building is owned by Texas Tech alumnus Larry Meyers. Fisher said living in the Tech House was one of the most interesting experiences while in The Capitol.

Fisher said the Tech House has living areas on the first floor, a dentist office on the second, and more living quarters on the third floor. He said it was funny to run into people waiting for their dentist appointments while he was just trying to go upstairs and see his friends.

“The Tech house was awesome,” Fisher said. “It kind of provided you with a little built in community and like a support group so you’re not tackling the hill alone.”

Amber Yanez, a junior marketing major, was chosen for a congressional internship this summer. A member of the Texas Tech Student Government Association since she was a freshman, Yanez is a self-described political science nerd, and hopes to work in Washington D.C. some day.

She saidshe is most excited to work in a fast paced environment.

“I’m just excited about meeting people,” Yanez said, “and this is going to sound super dorky, but the work part, I’m so excited about.”

Molly Craft, a junior English major, is also interning in D.C. this summer. Craft will work with Congressman Henry Cuellar from the 28th District of Texas. She said when an intern is placed with a representative, the intern’s political affiliation is usually taken into consideration.

Craft said she is excited to work with Cuellar, particularly on education reform.

“I’m most excited to meet the congressman I’m working with,” Craft said. “I think he’s really cool, I’ve been doing a lot of research on him. And also, may help work on some legislation or something. I think that’d be really cool.”

Craft said she thinks students who apply for a congressional internship should be looking for a valuable work experience and the chance to represent Texas Tech on a national stage.

“I think they look for leadership, and like someone who wants to go down there because they’re excited, not because someone who wants to go down there because they want a vacation, you know,” Craft said. “They want good people to represent Texas Tech while they’re down there.”

Caleb Fisher said showing your Red Raider pride can get you far in Washington, D.C.

“I wore my Double T pin every day, just to make sure, and that was at the advice of a former intern, and he told me to wear your Double T pin and to pass out your Texas Tech business cards whenever you can,” Fisher said. “And so, you’d go and make connections at like the receptions and fundraiser and stuff, and wearing this Double T pin, I was stopped quite a few times, and people would be like, ‘You’re a Red Raider? I love Texas Tech!’”

Yanez said Texas Tech has a great reputation in our nation’s capital, and that this internship program is part of the reason why.

“We’re all just polis sci nerds,” Yanez said. “This is something we may want to do when we graduate. And that’s why our presence in D.C., alumni wise, keeps growing as well.”

The Government and Public Service Internship program also offers opportunities in Austin and Lubbock.