Gareth Rhodes interns at the White House.
Senior, Political Science
My Experience Summary:
During the usual rush of applications for summer internships, I spent the early days of the spring semester filling out an application I considered a long-shot, but knew I would never forgive myself if I did not at least apply. When surprisingly the acceptance call came, and I was selected to intern in the White House Office of Scheduling and Advance (an office I was previously unaware of) I began preparations for an experience I now know I never could have adequately prepared myself for.
As an intern in the Scheduling and Advance Office from early June to mid-August, I spent most of my time handling scheduling requests for President Obama's time from all across America, such as a grandmother who offered the First Family to sample her "world-class" ravioli, to hundreds of elementary school students sending hand-drawn pictures hoping to invite the President to visit their classroom. Many of these letters, which told firsthand about everyday hardships facing Americans, gave me an opportunity to both listen to the concerns of the wider public and then communicate the various actions President Obama has taken throughout his time in office to improve the livelihoods of millions of Americans.
Why I went:
During my years at City College I have participated in several public service internships, from the district office of Congressman Charles Rangel here in Harlem to the Office of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. From these internships, I have gained an appreciation and interest in the role of government and public policy in the livelihoods of ordinary Americans. The White House internship offered an opportunity to experience the highest levels of American government and interact with some of our nation’s most talented and respected public servants. I went to both learn more about the workings of government and to contribute in a small way to the agenda of the Obama administration.
What I Learned:
I learned more than I could possibly write here. Overall, I come away from this internship with a greater motivation to pursue a career in public service and to work to elect the right candidates to political office. I return to school this fall eager to find ways to further engage in the political process and continue to communicate the efforts of our government to improve lives of everyday Americans.
The work day was just a small part of the memories of this internship: I will never forget the hours sitting in the auditorium during the weekly speaker series which gave us interns the opportunity to gather unsolicited career advice from senior members of the Administration such as Vice President Biden, Pete Rouse, David Axelrod, Tina Tchen, Jim Messina, and Valerie Jarrett. We peppered them with questions on everything from the Middle East peace process to the President's basketball skills. I will never forget being so busy working a volunteer table during the Fourth of July Barbeque on the South Lawn that I did not notice the President and First Lady personally thanking my fellow volunteers right behind me (though I was wondering why suddenly nobody cared about the hand-squeezed lemonade I was serving). I will never forget the many conversations I had with staff members here, who spoke of their motivation to put countless hours into working to improve the lives of ordinary Americans. When the day felt long and the work tedious, I recalled the words of a staff member in our office, "that for each of us here there are thousands of others who would give anything to be working where we are today." With this attitude, not a day passed that I did not feel grateful and privileged to have the opportunity to be a small part of this historic administration.
Advice For Others:
While a competitive internship, the White House internship is open to all students and encourages those from diverse backgrounds to apply. Political experience is not necessary, and even if you have no interest in pursuing a career in government work, this internship is an unforgettable and hard to replicate experience.
White House Internship Website