Rice will pilot a paid internship in conjunction with the Texas legislature this spring in Austin, offering select students the opportunity to work hands-on with research, bill drafting and policy analysis.
According to John Michael Austin, a Baker College senior who helped organize the internship, the program will run from January to May and allow Rice students to work full-time.
“A typical day will probably consist of talking to a couple of lobbyists and meeting with your state representative on some topic or issue,” Austin said. “A lot of times, you will find that you are the person in the office that is responsible for a certain policy area.”
The program is accepting Rice students from all academic backgrounds.
“I have never taken a policy class and I still had a really great experience,” Austin said. “This program is for students who are interested in figuring out how the Texas legislature works. You don’t have to be a policy major, you just have to be willing to do the work.”
While the Baker Institute already funds a cohort of students for summer policy internships in Washington, D.C., the new program with the Texas legislature aims to increase collaboration with local and state politics and policymaking.
“The big difference is that this is the height of state policy,” Austin said. “State policy completely dictates the way that we live our lives in the city. The Texas legislature is incredibly productive during these 150 days, so it’s a little more intense.”
After previously working with the Texas Legislature, Austin said he organized the internship by taking the idea to Dean of the School of Social Sciences Antonio Merlo and Assistant Dean for Student Programs Abbey Godley, who approved the program.
According to Austin, participants will also earn a stipend to cover housing costs for the semester. Although the program takes place during the school year, Austin said he believes students can work the internship into their academic schedules.
“I think the experience gained from the program, especially for students interested in public policy, is more than worth the time outside of Rice,” Austin said.