Six miles of shelves stacked with books and journals wound around him. Fingers landed lightly on a 1600s colonial law book, tracing perfectly penned calligraphy on smooth paper.
“I’ve been places in the capitol that most citizens haven’t been,” Jared Weikum said, recalling the VIP identification badge he was given during orientation for his new job in the heart of Lincoln, Neb. A junior accounting and pre-law student from Franktown, Colo., he landed the highly competitive legislative page position after receiving a personal recommendation from Senator Tony Fulton.
“I feel very humbled,” Weikum said. “This opportunity is a big deal because you’re in with a lot of important people that know what they’re doing. They have experience and years on them, and just getting to sit with them is a big honor.”
As a legislative page, the Colorado-native assists the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee during meetings on Mondays and Tuesdays. Senators are not allowed to leave while in committee meetings, so Weikum and another page deal with anything that requires going outside of the hearing room. The pages make sure committee sessions progress smoothly by serving as gofers, going to offices to retrieve forgotten papers or making copies for presentations.
“I’m kind of damage control,” Weikum explained. “When something comes up, I’m there to assist.”
The rest of the week he runs errands for Patrick J. O'Donnell, clerk of the legislature, whose office is the administration arm of the legislature. “He pretty much runs the show,” Weikum said with a smile.
During orientation, the new pages were led on a tour through the capitol’s secret tunnel system. While learning effective routes around the statehouse, Weikum’s group stopped at the law library with its restricted-access rare books section. Leafing through antique documents that inspired monumental change, Weikum continued to gain excitement about the new experience.
“Anyone who is interested in seeing how your tax dollars are being spent, or how the government works, would really enjoy this experience,” Weikum said.
The 20-year-old has discovered a new level of public speaking from committee discussions and presentations.
“Politicians have a really eloquent way of saying what they want to say,” Weikum said, explaining how he’s picked up on a lot of the positive aspects of the their mannerisms.
Working for the Nebraska state government provides Weikum invaluable experience and a boost to his resume, as well as the opportunity to serve as an unofficial representative for Union College. With 90 percent of his fellow pages coming from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the rest from Nebraska Wesleyan University, Weikum feels he can impact his colleagues’ views of Union. When meeting the aspiring lawyer for the first time, many ask if he’s a vegetarian.
“I hope I can show them that there’s more to Union than what we do or don’t eat. The capitol is a really friendly work environment, and I’ve made a lot of great connections,” Weikum said.
“Being employed here has been such a blast. I come back from work with just this huge smile on my face. I can’t stop from glowing,” Weikum said. “Working for the state legislature has really been such a great experience to see everything, see how it works and fits together. I get to see things that change our country first hand.”
Weikum researches in the Nebraska state capitol's law library.