Internship Spotlight: Jakob Lucas ’24

My name is Jakob Lucas, and I’m a senior from Waxhaw, North Carolina. Double majoring in Politics & Public Affairs and Communication has given me a wide breadth of knowledge and enabled me to keep my career paths open and flexible. The skills I gained in both fields of study proved incredibly helpful this past summer. The variety of Knowlton Center programming also proved invaluable, equipped with an unparalleled level of professionalism and preparedness for my summer experience.

For two months, I lived, worked, and studied in Washington, D.C. through the Ronald Reagan Institute’s (RRI) summer undergraduate program. I would like to shout out my program advisors Kimberly Lipina and Olivia Sheir for their amazing dedication and mentorship during this summer of growth. RRI helped place me in an internship at the United States House of Representatives as a First Call and Customer Experience Center Intern with the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).

To say this summer was one of the best and most transformative experiences of my life would be an understatement. From honing long-developed skills to entirely new ones, my internship challenged my problem-solving and critical thinking capabilities while enabling me to build a vast network of contacts. The Knowlton Center’s career coffees and panel events enabled me to network effectively and memorably while forgoing feelings of dread or nervousness.

My internship with First Call and the Customer Experience Center varied dramatically on a day-to-day basis. Some days we hosted in-House conferences for local or D.C. congressional staffers for which I helped organize, facilitate panels, and transcribe notes. Other days I ran around the U.S. House of Representatives campus, setting up and checking meeting rooms, solving problems as they arose, and assisting with requests from personal and committee offices. I also occasionally contributed to the intake process for various staff trips.

One of my proudest and most significant contributions throughout my internships was the day I spent working in the personal office of the Chief Administrative Officer, Catherine Szpindor. Throughout the day I was fortunate enough to talk to numerous high level government officials and review official documentation before publication. Moreover, I even prepared a brief for another CAO executive on how the annual House appropriations bill would affect our office and the resources and programming we offered.

My summer experience, both with the CAO and Ronald Reagan Institute helped me realize my aspirations to be in politics and on Capitol Hill. Prior to the summer, I only had an inkling of what life there could be like. However, my time on the Hill helped to solidify my passion for both the industry and the area.

As I begin wrapping up this article, I’ll give you advice both alumni and the Ronald Reagan Institute gave me: be shameless. The best piece of advice I received was that nearly everyone you meet had someone help them in their career journey. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for help, make a connection, or ask about future employment opportunities. These connections and relationships you form could be integral to your future career. Moreover, every professional recognizes the importance of networking and most will be eager to help you along the way. Don’t be afraid or discouraged to talk to whoever you can!

Although it may sound cliche, then Knowlton Center has been my biggest resource in my career exploration process. I would constantly schedule meetings with career coaches and stop in during peer coach drop in hours. While I continued exploring various career options, my experiences with the Knowlton Center enabled me to strengthen my application materials and feel confident in myself. 

These skills shined through as applied for the Ronald Reagan Institute’s summer programming and went through my internship placement process. I was prepared for every step of the way; able to give thoughtful and cohesive interview responses, and transfer skills from my on-campus experiences to my internship. Without the opportunities and education of the Knowlton Center, who knows how my summer could have turned out. Denison deeply cares about and invests in their students’ futures, so make sure to take advantage of the vast resources available to you!

By Jakob Lucas
Jakob Lucas Peer Career Coach