Student: Courtney Jacquin, MPP, Class of 2019

Position: Illinois Deputy Press Secretary for U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)

Congratulations on your new role! Tell us about the position and what you’ll be doing.

As the deputy press secretary in Illinois for Senator Duckworth, I’m responsible for the press operations around the state with support from our D.C.-based communications team. This means working with reporters to pitch stories, staffing events and working with the press when the Senator’s in Illinois for events, and writing press releases and quotes on a daily basis.

What Career Development resources did you utilize in your job search?

Utilizing CDO was one of the first things I did when I got to Harris. Obviously I had come back to school to learn, but I immediately had my sights focused on finding a summer internship. In my first meeting last fall with Associate Director Nick Fahnders, I said, “I want to work for Tammy Duckworth this summer.” I had some other plans, but working for the Senator was my number one goal. As I worked with Nick to polish my resume and my application, Leslie Anderson helped me find a Harris alum in Senator Duckworth’s office with whom to have a coffee chat. From there I applied to an internship position in the Senator’s D.C. office and was offered a summer internship on the communications team. 

Courtney Jacquin, Class of 2020.

What was the process like?

I’m extremely lucky; I came to this role straight from my internship last summer. At the end of the summer the role of Illinois press assistant opened in the Chicago office. When I was approached, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to handle being both a full-time employee and a full-time student, but I knew it wasn’t a position I could turn down. After a lot of panicked emails and phone calls to friends and family, I decided to take the job and figure out how to fit school around that. This year wasn’t easy and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend working full time and finishing a full-time MPP, but I’m happy I made that decision. I had to make some sacrifices and not pursue certificates I was planning on completing and miss out on classes I was looking forward to taking, but in the end I’m graduating on time and have kind of a dream job, and I’m for that I’m so grateful. On top of that, six months in I was promoted to deputy press secretary, so I couldn’t be happier (but I’m also very tired!).

What skills and experiences from your MPP degree will you be bringing to the position?

I may not be the one creating policy, but an important part of my job is being able to clearly and concisely communicate policy to the public. More importantly, Harris taught me how to work well in a team settings with folks from all different backgrounds on tight deadlines, which is so important in a professional setting.

How did your time at Harris guide you to Senator Duckworth?

I came into Harris knowing I wanted to make the shift from my previous industry, journalism, into politics and policy. As an Illinois native who’s always been interested in politics, I’d been inspired by Senator Duckworth for quite some time. Coming into Harris I had a lot of the communications skills necessary for the job, but Harris gave me the foundation in understanding the policy necessary. Helping found the Harris Student Organization Prairie State Society, of which I was the president this year, also solidified my passion for politics in Illinois. Though I’m working on the federal level, in our state office we’re closely dialed into what’s going on at the local and state level, and I love that I get to be a part of that. Prairie State Society was a great experience because I got to connect with my classmates who have the same passion for politics like myself, as well as work with some amazing speakers who we brought in for events. I’m part of the first graduating cohort of students who were Prairie State Society members, and I’m excited to grow a great network of Harris Prairie State alums working in government offices and campaigns across the city, state and country.

What tips do you have for incoming students who are thinking about internships and careers?

With dedication and hard work, you can make anything you want to happen, happen. The Harris name is respected in the world of policy, and Harris has a great network to utilize in your internship and job search. Just know that if you put in the work, you can get exactly what you want out of Harris. Harris is an investment in every sense of the word, but it pays off when you’re doing what you love after graduation.

Read about Courtney's summer internship with Senator Duckworth here