Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Working at the Capitol - My Experience Paging at the Louisiana House of Representatives

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As of late, the posts here on Sarah Smile have been severely lacking. This is because I've been working 12-15 hour days at the Louisiana House of Representatives! I have absolutely loved it and am so glad I went back a second year, even though I wish I had more then 4 weeks there…I'm already looking forward to next year! So many people ask me all of the time how I start working there, what I do, how I like it, etc, so I thought I'd share that here. 
I am what is called a "page," so basically an assistant to the entire house. As far as applying, that part is easy once you find a Representative to sponsor you. Last year, I had a rep from my area sponsor me, but this year I just called about 10 of them until one had a page spot open. For the most part, if you're from their district, they're more than happy to sponsor you, you just have to be 16. 
Most of the pages sit on the side of the House chamber and wait to be paged by a representative, but I claimed a printer spot early on last year. I sit next to the printer during all of session and bring the reps way they print all day long…so exciting! I love my printer spot though, because it is right by the drink and snack room, which means when bored reps get up to get a snack/drink, they stop and hang out with me, and that is my absolute favorite part of my job. I love getting to talk to them about bills, issues that are important to them, campaign strategy, and their political and life experience in general. I love that there are some that are lawyers, some that aren't, and some that have just had such cool experiences that they love talking about. Here are some snaps from last year with my favorites…
Rep. Shadoin! Mr. Shadoin is absolutely lovely. He is incredibly sweet and never makes me feel like I'm talking out of turn when I ask serious questions about controversial bills or about his life and career. He was especially helpful this year because he helped me make a much better, more informed decision about law school and whether or not it was right for me. 
Rep. Harris! Mr. Harris sponsored me to be a page this year (each rep gets to sponsor one person) and I just loved talking to him. He is definitely a "leader" personality, and as the leader of the Republican Delegation he taught me a lot about how certain things work in the House and I picked up a few good tips after sitting by him for 4 weeks! 

Rep. Chaney! Oh Mr. Chaney, this man is amazing. He is like my grandfather when I'm at the capitol, always looking out for me, explaining things to me, cheering me up, and just being an all-around great person. For instance, I had a crush on a boy in the governor's office last year and he "manufactured" errands for me just so that I could run up there every now and then. He is just so sweet and I'm so thankful for the time I've gotten to spend learning from him!

Rep. Brown! Mr. Brown is seriously the coolest, most well-traveled person I have ever met. He always tells me about his travels in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and America and his stories are incredible. I am always so amazed that he ended up as a rep after all of that. He was definitely good at giving me travel tips for my semester abroad this fall! 
Another favorite part of working there is all of the pages I get to hang out with. I wish I had pictures with all my favorites, but the last day is so crazy and not all of them could make it, so here are a few. 
This is the crowd from last year…Trevor, me, Lauri Beth, and Will. We practically hung out all day when we weren't running errands for people, and it was loads of fun. 

This year, Will and Trevor came back, and we kind of added Gaven to the group. Through all the long days and late nights, it's fun to have people to laugh with, start rubber band fights with, and talk about life with. I'm going to miss all of them this summer!
Lastly, another good thing about working at the capitol is all the fun things you get to do. For instance: 
getting to eat your lunch at the top of the tower…27 floors above Baton Rouge 

getting to see the Memorial Day celebrations and hang out with this awesome military band…they make my day every year 

getting to see places in the capitol that people don't get to see everyday…the reps love to take me on tours to the Governor's floors, the Senate committee rooms and the Senate chamber, and the members lounge, and I get to see the basement (which is not very exciting) (this is the House ceiling)

getting to walk around on the House floor, which is not something tourists and visitors can do 

getting to generally walk about the building freely and appreciate all the cool things the capitol holds 

getting to hang around and goof off in the rep's desks after hours…#whoops 

getting to meet cool people like Drew Brees (quarter back for the New Orleans Saints) who I also got to ride in an elevator with…trĂ©s cool. 

getting to hang out at the capitol at all hours of the day and night because it's such a babe..this pic was taken at about midnight, btw…while I laid on the capitol's front lawn…#roughday 

geting to hang out with the reps and have tons of fun..Rep. Shadoin right before he hit a home run up the center aisle and into the balcony…so awesome.On this particular night we had ordered pizza, had the basketball game on the big screen, and were listening to music while we worked and played baseball in the chamber…this is a night I will never forget because it was honestly so awesome. 

getting to be present for some really fun things…like some of the reps having a jam session on the last day…so much fun!

getting to make a rubber band ball twice the size of a baseball and amaze all of the reps…and win the rubber band war…#casual 

Anddd getting to meet the governor once a year…


All in all, if you're at all interested in politics, law school, or just government in general, I'd highly recommend working at your state capitol for an internship, summer job, or paging opportunity like this. I have absolutely loved it both times, even after all the rough days and long nights, and would urge everyone to do it! Cannot wait to be back next year.

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btw, these are all terrible iPhone snaps and most of them were taken from my Insta…please forgive me (;

1 comment

  1. This looks like such an amazing experience! Loved reading about it!


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