Luke Kirkpatrick

By Zoë Eitel
Worried about not having an internship when he was home for the summer, Luke Kirkpatrick branched out his search to look at organizations that weren’t as tied to his Political Science major as his previous internships had been. This led him to the Nashville Film Festival.
Even though the festival’s website didn’t list an opening for an intern, Luke sent in his resume and was offered a position as an administrative intern. This role was a lot different than ones Luke had previously held, but still helped him gain valuable insight.
“The Nashville Film Festival helped me to see the different ways in which the skill set I’ve developed could be applied to different industries,” Luke says.
Luke started interning early in his educational journey, applying for a summer internship with Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper during his freshman year. 
“I was a bit hesitant at first because I was a freshman, I didn’t really know too much about how the internship process would work,” Luke says. “I was worried about being overwhelmed, if it would be too much.”

Former Administrative Intern with Nashville Film Festival

Former Staff Aide at Office Of Alderman Tom Tunney

BA Political Science 2020

He ended up getting the internship and was able to work in Washington, D.C. at the Capitol Building every day that summer. Luke did a lot of interpersonal work such as giving tours to constituents visiting from Tennessee and working the phone lines. Luke really liked the personal touch Congressman Cooper took with the interns and how much they were able to learn from him and his staffers.
“That Congressman’s internship program is really cool because he gets a bunch of interns and a lot of people will never meet with their interns, but he made time to meet with us every day,” Luke says. “We would do sessions with each of the Congressman’s staffers and they would tell us about their job, how they got it, what their day-to-day duties were.”

“Even if you have something that you don’t necessarily love, it can still give you skills that you can apply to a job that you enjoy more later.”

This first internship gave Luke an idea of what he could expect from future government work and gave him the confidence and experience he needed to pursue his next internship with the 44th Ward’s Alderman Office.
“I had learned about Aldermen and how they worked from my political science classes, so I went ahead and emailed a resume to their basic email from the website and said, ‘Hey, I know that you guys don’t have any postings right now, but I live right next to the office, I have this experience from DC, I’d love to come work for you even if it’s unpaid, let me know,’” he says.
Luke held an unpaid internship in that office answering calls from constituents, selling parking passes, going on ridealongs to take care of infrastructure work, as well as day-to-day responsibilities. Just when Luke was planning to take a step back on his hours at the office, one of the people he had been working closely with retired and he was offered the opportunity to interview for the position.
He took that opportunity and was a staff aide working with senior citizens and building violations for eight months.
“I learned that studying something and working in that environment are two totally different things,” Luke says. “My idea of how government—whether it’s federal in DC or the city government in Chicago—functions is very different than when you see what it actually is. It helped me to get a lot of work with people. It wasn’t just policy work, it was helping people in the moment.”
As much as Luke enjoyed working for the City of Chicago, he realized through his internship and staff role that that path is not the one for him, which he says was a valuable lesson.
“Even if you have something that you don’t necessarily love, it can still give you skills that you can apply to a job that you enjoy more later,” Luke says.