BY HALEY HODGES
While most universities can offer on-campus work for students, Drake University also boasts the availability of on-campus internships related to a student’s field of study. Usually, these two types of career opportunities don’t intersect, but Drake’s partnership with the Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement allows for intermingling.
The Harkin Institute employs nine student interns in a variety of roles to work in positions of interest with respect to their future careers, while still working through the university.
Drake junior Ryan McKeever, who is majoring in politics and economics, is a project manager who started working at the Harkin Institute last year.
“I originally started as a general staff student worker, and there were only a few of us back then,” McKeever said in an email. “From the very start they trusted me and gave me real world projects and opportunities, One of my first days on the job involved staffing Senator Tom Harkin during a few interviews he had to do and drafting a comparative analysis report on other public policy institutes.”
As a leader among the student interns, McKeever sees the benefits that the Institute is providing to himself and the other interns.
“They really want to set all their student workers up for the best possible job when they graduate,” McKeever said. “We get to do real-world work and meet important decision-makers and thought leaders. We want student workers at the Institute to have skills and experiences that make them the most ideal candidate for whatever job they want when they graduate. So they constantly are conscious of what I enjoy doing and what I want to do when I graduate to allow my role at the Institute to grow into what I want to make it.”
Drake has made its mark this year as a staple for political involvement for students throughout the election cycle, but the Harkin Institute offers alternative involvement outside of just caucus season.
Drake junior Kathryn Allen works as an event coordinator assistant and student manager. As a student studying political science and law, politics and society, her work is highly applicable to her future career goals.
“I have had the opportunity, like many individuals at Drake, to work in a variety of political settings” Allen said in an email. “However, as I progress in my professional career I realized I wanted something that was going to give me ‘real world’ skills and professional experience that was applicable to a career beyond Drake.
Prior involvement in politics and the specific interests of the Harkin Institute are not required of their interns. Sarah Mattes, who is majoring in public relations and magazine journalism, did not have previous experience in these areas.
“At the time I was looking for internships on campus and in different areas and my advisor, Jennifer Glover Konfrst, had suggested I look at the Harkin Institute,” Mattes said in an email. “I researched everything about them, and I loved what they were doing; however, politics and public policy have never been my thing. At first, I was hesitant because of my lack of knowledge in anything remotely related to politics or public policy, but (my directors) Estelle Montgomery and Marsha Ternus were more than welcoming and introduced me to this fun and crazy world.”
Through the Harkin Institute, Mattes has become more involved in the area and found great professional experience through her work.
“In just one more year, I will be walking across that graduation stage and entering the real world, getting an adult job,” Mattes said. “After my time at the Harkin Institute and after everything I’ve learned from these fantastic women, I have no doubt in the world that I will be ready to take that step into the real world and have no hesitations. Without the Harkin Institute, I’m not sure if I would be able to say those words, but this job has given me so much that I know when I leave Drake, I will be ready.”