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News Release

May 25, 2018

Students gain experience, play key roles as legislative interns

Left to right, Northwest students Hannah Ankenbauer, Tristan Smith, Nick Hurt and Mariah Jones stand on the steps of the governor's mansion in Jefferson City. The students worked at the capitol this spring as legislative interns. (Submitted photo)

Left to right, Northwest students Hannah Ankenbauer, Tristan Smith, Nick Hurt and Mariah Jones stand on the steps of the governor's mansion in Jefferson City. The students worked at the capitol this spring as legislative interns. (Submitted photo)

Five Northwest Missouri State University students concluded their work this month at the Missouri state capitol, where they spent the spring semester gaining invaluable experience as legislative interns and learned about government alongside state lawmakers.

The internship program, which began in early January, annually places a cohort of Northwest students in the Jefferson City offices of state senators and state representatives. The students track legislation, conduct research, attend committee hearings, assist with constituent issues and lead tours of the capitol building.

“The real beauty of this internship was that every day was completely different,” said Tristan Smith, a junior criminology major from Holt, Missouri, who interned in the office of Rep. Kevin Austin. “Every day required me to play a different role and use different skills to complete my assigned tasks.”

Politics have long been a passion for Smith, and he sought the internship as an opportunity to immerse himself into the political field while educating himself about the Missouri legislature. His responsibilities throughout the internship included constituent relations, research and tracking legislation. In addition to taking phone calls and answering emails, his constituent work included managing social media channels and connecting with representatives of other government agencies to provide assistance.

Smith had opportunities to interact with influential legislators and present his research to them.

“At the beginning of my internship my supervisor required me to find five bills that I wanted to follow throughout session,” he said. “I would listen to them at committee hearings on the House floor, and then I would follow them to the Senate. Watching the legislative process with my own eyes enlightened me on how complex government truly is and the vital role it plays in our country.”

Smith, who has aspirations of attending law school and working for a non-profit organization, also said he gained a deeper understanding of the importance of communication and conducting research, not to mention things like time management and accountability.

“Learning to balance this internship, classes, work and the other demands of life was a lesson I quickly learned during my time in Jefferson City,” he said. “Sure, this is also required in college, but it is different when you are working in a professional setting with early mornings and late nights and having to balance everything proved to be challenging. But in all, it was rewarding when I figured it out.”

Mariah Jones, a senior business and marketing major from Lebanon, Missouri, interned in the office of Rep. Gina Mitten. Jones said she was interested in learning how state legislation might affect her as a business person, in addition to playing a role in the legislative process.

Like Smith, constituent relations and tracking and researching legislation was an important part of Jones’ daily responsibilities.

“The experiences I have had in the Missouri House far exceeded any expectations I could have had for the legislative session,” Jones said. “Coming into this internship, I had no concrete expectations and simply strove to be a sponge and learn as much as I could in my time here. I can now confidently say that I have learned far more about, not only the legislative process, but also how to build and maintain working relationships, than I could have ever imagined.”

Joining Jones and Smith in Jefferson City were Hannah Ankenbauer, a senior political science and organizational communication major from Massena, Iowa, who interned in the office of Sen. Dan Hegeman, and Nick Hurt, a junior history and political science major from Independence, Missouri, interning in the office of Rep. Allen Andrews. Additionally, Maxwell Lyons, a junior finance major from Papillion, Nebraska, interned in the governor’s office.

Northwest’s legislative internship is open to all majors, and applicants must meet a minimum grade-point average. Candidates are selected based on an essay addressing why they should be placed in the program and an interview with a panel of Northwest faculty and staff.

Selected students can receive up to 12 credit hours of academic credit and be eligible for a stipend to assist with living expenses in Jefferson City.

Past interns have remained active in the halls of the capitol or gone on to successful careers in politics at all levels of government including public relations and law.

For more information about the legislative internship program, visit Interested students also may contact Career Services at or 660.562.1250, or Daniel Smith, assistant professor of political science, at


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