In the summer of 2009, I had the privilege of working as an intern in the Office of the Chief of Staff. I wanted to use this blog post to share my experience and encourage anyone interested to apply now. The deadline for the Spring 2012 White House Internship Program is September 11th!
The office I was interning for, the Office of the Chief of Staff, is responsible for the oversight of White House staff and working with others to develop and carry out the President’s initiatives and priorities. The assignments given to the interns vary from day to day and office to office. I worked alongside staff members in matters concerning policy and research. Some of my daily tasks included conducting research, attending meetings, writing memos, and performing general administrative work. I worked on projects ranging from the Recovery Act outlay analysis – to investigating the impact of congressional redistricting. While I was able to work on some fascinating projects, there were also days were I spent hours sorting through Rahm Emanuel’s mail and working on monotonous spreadsheets. Sorting mail was actually entertaining at times; you would be surprised by some of the stuff people sent him!
In addition to the daily work, every week the internship class participated in a weekly speaker series and a service-learning project. The projects were a meaningful way to give back to the community and build leadership skills. Throughout the speaker series, we heard from senior members of the Obama Administration including President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Senior Advisor David Axelrod, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and many others. These were usually the highlight of my week. I was surprised by the personal stories they shared with us and their openness they exhibited when answering questions. I always left the room feeling inspired.
Another unique opportunity we had was participating in special events at the White House: the congressional luau, the Independence Day celebration on the South Lawn, and the staff picnic. I think we all were a little star-struck at these events; we were surrounded by some of the greatest minds and most powerful people in the country.
As much fun as it was attending those events and seeing all those people, my favorite moment of the internship happened every day. Rahm Emanuel told us if there was ever a day that you walk through those gates and don’t feel proud and honored to work there, then you should turn in your badge and go home. That was my favorite part of the internship, the moment I arrived at work and walked past all the tourists and through the gates. My internship was an invaluable experience. So much of what I learned can not be taught in a classroom and it has helped me to better understand the inner workings of federal government. I encourage anyone that is interested to apply here and please check out the website for more information!