During the 2011 spring and summer semesters, many University of Tennessee students began receiving emails through their clubs that alerted them to an internship opportunity with the Mark Padgett for Mayor Campaign. Since then, a total of 18 UT students have interned with Padgett's campaign.
This is the first political campaign for all 18 students, and the interns range from law students to communication majors. All political parties are represented among Padgett's diverse staff and interns.
Intern duties include planning and attending fundraisers and other events, writing press releases, researching and knocking on neighborhood doors with Padgett.
"I gained valuable experience by helping with some of Mark's fundraisers. I was also given the opportunity to network at these events," said Lauren West, a senior in public relations.
Padgett's interns are able to make their own schedule, and many interns have not only gained campaign experience, but have also developed lasting friendships.
"I think of the campaign staff as one big family, and a lot of us hang-out outside of the campaign office because we get along so great," said West.
Will Thompson, a senior in political science, likes that his internship has allowed him to better understand the vision of Knoxville's potential mayor.
"Mark realizes that many UT graduates have to move away from Knoxville to find jobs, and he wants to be the mayor to fix that," Thompson said, "Since Mark is significantly younger than some of the other candidates, he understands our generation's desire for a thriving downtown."
Primary elections are Tuesday, Sept. 27, and Padgett's interns are ready to see the results.
"I really want Mark to win," said West, "After working with him, I really do believe he is exactly what Knoxville needs."