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Internship on "The Hill"

Justin Davidson served as an intern for two Texas Congressmen while a student at Sam Houston State University, which landed him a full-time job on "The Hill" right after graduation.

New SHSU Graduate is working on "The Hill"

Justin Davidson served his time on “The Hill” as an intern for two Texas Representatives, Mac Thornberry and Kevin Brady. In December, he landed a job as a full-time staff member in Washington, D.C.

“It’s been a great experience,” said Davidson, who graduated from Sam Houston State University on Dec. 17. “I’ve gotten to see things most people don’t get to see. I worked in the Capitol Building. I learned a lot about government and how it works.”

Davidson is one of the cogs in the wheel that make government work. During the Fall 2011 semester, he was assigned to constituent services in the office of U.S. Congressman Thornberry of the 13th District of Texas, Vice Chairman of the Armed Services Committee and a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Davidson answered 100 phone calls and reviewed up to 300 correspondence via e-mail, regular mail and faxes a day from the public.

“From a communications and administrative point of view, most interns are worth their weight in gold,” said Josh Martin, Chief of Staff for Rep. Thornberry, who serves the Amarillo area. “Justin comported himself in a very professional manner. He took on new challenges and he ran with them. He did a great job for us.”

Davidson also served for a semester as an intern with Rep. Brady of the 8th District of Texas, handling constituent services in his Conroe office. The last day of his internship with Rep. Thornberry was Dec. 9; he began a staff position with Congressman Randy Neugebauer of the 19th District near Abilene, Texas on Dec. 12, and he graduated from SHSU on Dec. 17.

“I am going to work up here and stay on as a staff member,” Davidson said. “It’s been a whirlwind. I interviewed and got the job in the same day. I wanted to say thanks to the staff members. They were extremely helpful. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.”

As an intern, Davidson’s job was to help sort through the days messages so that the Congressman could reply to every communication. A lot of correspondence targeted the budget and its proposed cuts to military spending, Medicare and Social Security. Some were form letters that get relayed to Congressional offices.

“We strive to answer every constituent letter and phone call,” said Martin. “We want to make sure that he (Rep. Thornberry) knows what his constituents want. Interns play a critical role in sorting out the letters and in making sure Mac knows the issues.”

In addition to his work in constituent services, Davidson assisted in writing legislative memos to the Congressman, outlining proposed bills and why the Representative should or shouldn’t support it. The one page paper includes information about proposed legislation, an outline of key points and an opinion on the bill.

One of the bills Davidson worked on was just introduced, H.B. 1023, which would open the Arctic Natural Preserve and the Gulf of Mexico for oil exploration. Davidson said he is grateful to Sam Houston State University for pushing him to write in his classes.

“I write every day,” Davidson said. “It was a huge help.” Davidson said he would like to work in Washington, D.C. for a few years and then go to law school. He wants to follow in the footsteps of his father, who works for Conoco Phillips in the energy industry.

In the meantime, Davidson said he would like to open doors for other SHSU students interested in internship in Washington. He was the first SHSU intern to serve in recent years with Rep. Thornberry, and Martin said the university prepared him well.

“I would like to see more students come up and have the opportunities like I did,” Davidson said.

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