Last semester in my Government 103 class, Introduction to American Politics, my professor Dr. Victor talked to us about the URAP Research Assistant positions and the different projects that are available to work on for the spring semester. In my free time I looked at all the different projects and applied to three that caught my interest, I was happy to find out that one of the projects was conducted by my current professor and was super excited when she interviewed me and gave me the opportunity to be her research assistant.
The project I am working on is data collection and analyzation of Congressional Caucuses. Every week, I check out this big phone-book-like book called the Congressional Yellow Pages, which contains detailed information on every member of Congress and I record which caucus’ they are in into a large spreadsheet. This is a very time consuming process and just recently we have finished all 435 members of the House of Representatives. Before I started this project I really had no idea how government majors conduct research, but now I have first hand experience with it and now have a better understanding of the research in my field of interest. While Congressional Coding might not be the exact thing I want to do as a career, this RA position opened up a world of opportunities I didn’t know existed, before I wasn’t quite sure on what kind of jobs people had with a government major other than being a politician but now I see that researcher is a big and popular option.
After reading 435 representative profiles in the Congressional Yellow Book I learned exactly how many caucus there are in Congress and how they are basically small groups of people with a very specific purpose to work and improve their topic, an example being the
Congressional Submarine Caucus or the Congressional Food Safety Caucus. The legislative branch is far more complex than I thought and I’m glad I had the experience to learn about it.