Sometimes all it takes is the encouragement of one person to point you in the direction you always meant to go.
While many college students wait until their senior year to pursue an internship, junior history major and Eagles football player Luke LeBrun ’21 chose to apply for a very selective, paid internship position at the Minnesota Senate during the fall of his junior year.
It was UNW history professor and department chair, Dr. Jonathan Loopstra, who presented Luke with the idea of interning at the Capitol.
The Minnesota legislative internship provides students the opportunity to observe and participate in the legislative process. For students at Northwestern, this offers them the opportunity to apply the skills they’re learning in history and political science.
“I intended to be a communications major,” says Luke, “but I changed to history even before beginning my freshman year. I thought that with a history major I could go into law or politics.”
When Dr. Loopstra, Luke’s advisor, told him about the senate internship opening, Luke knew working at the Minnesota Capitol would be a “really good, hands-on experience and opportunity.”
Luke will work with a senator one-on-one in a senatorial office, explains Dr. Loopstra. He’ll gain a detailed understanding of the Legislature, including policy and procedure, rules and regulations, political behavior, and law. Luke will also get first-hand experience in writing letters, memos, and reports; scheduling meetings and taking notes; and researching a bill or issue.
“As history majors, we have to think critically about the past. We have to read well and write well. These are things I’ll be doing in my internship at the Capitol, whether writing for a senator, writing to constituents, or interacting with different senators at the Capitol.”
—Luke LeBrun ’21, History major
Learning how to use resources and facilities available to Legislators—including journals, session laws and statutes, index departments, research offices, and the Secretary of the Senate’s office—comes with the role as well.
If Luke is nervous, it doesn’t show. As he outlines what his role at the Capitol entails, Luke calmly explains, “As history majors, we have to think critically about the past. We have to read well, and we have to write well. These are the things I’ll be doing in my internship at the Capitol.”
Luke’s confidence in the training he’s received and skills he’s developed at Northwestern—in the classroom and on the football field—likely worked in his favor as he walked through the rigorous interview process. After submitting his application, Luke was first invited to participate in a phone interview. Having been successful in that first interview, Luke was then invited to interview in person. That in-person interview, he admits, was nerve-wracking. “It was five-on-one.”
When asked about his major at Northwestern, Luke is quick to point out is that history isn’t just for history majors. “There’s a lot you can do with a history major,” he adds. “A lot of people you see on TV—news anchors, reporters, politicians—were history majors as well.”
“History isn’t just for history teachers. There’s a lot you can do with a history major. A lot of people you see on TV—news anchors, reporters, politicians—were history majors as well.” —Luke LeBrun ’21, History major
In a letter outlining the application process for this Minnesota State Senate internship, John Trombley, Intern Coordinator, writes, “for more than 40 years, college students have taken their first steps toward careers in public service as Minnesota Senate interns.”
That sounds like a perfect place for a young man that has his sights set on Washington—and in the not-so-distant future. “One thing I am looking to do, perhaps as a senior, is to go to Washington D.C. and work for a presidential campaign.”
“We were delighted to learn that Luke LeBrun received an internship at the Minnesota State Senate. There were a limited number of openings for this internship, and it’s a paid internship. We’re very proud of Luke and his accomplishment.” —Dr. Jeremy Kolwinska, Associate VP/Academic Affairs
Luke’s internship runs from mid-February through mid-May, the duration of the 2020 Minnesota legislative session. No doubt he will use the knowledge and skills he learns in the history department at Northwestern to contribute well to those he serves, senators and constituents alike.
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