The Graduate College of Social Work selects graduate interns to intern at the Texas Legislature during its legislative session every two years. This internship is a block placement, open to both Clinical and Macro students, and academic credit is provided. It requires relocation to Austin for the entire Texas legislative session (Odd years: early January - end of May), and offers an excellent opportunity to experience first-hand how policy is made in Texas. Student interns work as full-time staffers in the Legislature, either as policy analysts with the Legislative Study Group, a Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives, or in legislators’ offices.
The Austin Legislative Internship is one of very few opportunities nationally for social work students to participate full-time in the legislative policy-making process. Both Clinical and Macro students report that this is an incredible and useful learning experience, one that often changes their life. Clinical interns often find that they better understand how policy impacts practice and feel more equipped to support their agencies in advocating for policies to meet clients’ needs. Macro students gain valuable insight into the policy-making process and are competitive for policy advocacy jobs requiring prior legislative experience.
The GCSW Austin Legislative Internship Program has been in effect for over 10 years. During this time 58 GCSW students have successfully completed this internship. Alumni are engaged in both clinical and macro practice professionally, and continue to take an active role in influencing policy in their personal and professional lives. Many alumni hold positions where they actively influence policy; current policy-oriented positions held by program alumni include:
- Executive Director, Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity
- Director of Public Policy, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas
- Mental Health Policy Analyst, Center for Public Policy Priorities
- Lobbyist, Mignon McGarry & Associates
- Candidate, Texas House of Representatives
- Deputy Director of Field Engagement, Corporation for Enterprise Development
- Program Analyst, Office of the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (Presidential Management Fellow)
- Program Analyst, Center for Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships, U.S. Department of Agriculture (Presidential Management Fellow)
- Legislative Director, Texasrep. Elliott Naishtat
- Data Analyst, Office of the Texas Comptroller
- Staff Attorney, Tahrih Justice Center
- Advocacy Specialist, The Arc of Larimer County
The internship has a competitive application and interview process. Strong candidates will possess a commitment to successfully represent the College and the University of Houston, an ability to work well under pressure, and a commitment to continuous learning during the course of the internship. No prior policy knowledge is needed beyond the introductory graduate social work course content students take at the GCSW prior to the legislative session. Interns enroll in a Legislative Seminar, which provides additional training and preparation for the internship.
Interns must be able to commit to moving to Austin for the entire legislative session and to working long hours and weekend hours as needed during the course of the session.
Instructions for How to Apply
Interested students must attend an Information Session. Interviews will only be offered to students who attend this session. If attendance at the Information Session is not possible, interested students must contact Dr. Pritzker, the Internship Coordinator, prior to the Information Session to discuss alternate arrangements.
There are two information sessions offered during the year prior to each legislative session (the legislature meets in odd-numbered years, e.g., 2017, 2019). One information session is offered in the Spring prior to each legislative session for advanced curriculum students; a second information session is offered in the Fall prior to each legislative session for Foundation and incoming Advanced Standing students.