Walking into the White House on the first day of my internship, I thought about all those that have been there before me, and all those that will continue long after my time. In that short moment of introspection, it dawned on me; the walls surrounding me that have stood for hundreds of years in stoic stillness have observed the work of some of our country’s most notable civil servants – ones whose histories are worth filling a novel many times over. It made me realize that having the opportunity to spend my summer serving my country in the White House as an intern was about something so much larger than myself.
After being selected for the Summer 2019 White House Internship Program, a competitive feat, I knew this rigorous program would challenge me and push me out of my comfort zone. I was confident that my time in the Frankfurt School Master in Management program had done much to prepare me for what was about to come. Just a few months prior, I had the opportunity to visit the headquarters of the European Union with my class and professors. As the only American in the room, I quietly listened to EU politicians deliver sentiments filled with anti-American undertones. It was in that moment that I gained confidence in my ability to serve in the public sphere, when I stood up for my country and gave a direct and candid critique to these powerful leaders. My principles and opinions are the only thing that can never be taken away from me. I learned the importance of never allowing somebody to silence your opinion, and to speak for those that may not have the self-assurance to voice their beliefs to a room full of challengers.
The day-to-day at the White House
When asked what a typical day at the White House looks like, I learned that there is no typical day; every day is vastly different. Structurally, interns were placed within various departments in the Executive Office of the President. I interned in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, which serves as the liaison between the White House and state, local, and tribal governments. Weekly tasks included tracking legislative actions by governors, assembling and analyzing social media reach using various graphing methods, and inviting locally elected officials to the White House for organized State Leadership Days. These activities helped me understand the significance of all levels of government, and the vast amount of work it takes at the Federal level to maintain these working relationships from the ground up. I was amazed at how the Administration made every effort it could to help support issues faced by local and state governments. In addition to my work with the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, the White House Internship Program offered professional development opportunities, weekly speaker series events with senior Administration officials, as well as various volunteer projects. It taught me that there is so much more to being a public servant than the daily work inside the White House. It was an honor to wake up every morning and walk by the tourists on my way to pass through the gates, knowing I would be spending my day playing a small role on the large team that works tirelessly to better the lives of many millions of Americans.
Many people ask me what I see as my next step or where I see myself in five years. For now, I’m looking forward to returning to Germany to see my friends and complete my Master’s program. I will work part-time as a Working Student at the U.S Consulate in Frankfurt, thanks to the condensed learning model Frankfurt School offers to allow its students to work alongside our studies. In the spring, I hope to use my experience from the White House Internship Program to assist me in researching and writing a unique Master’s Thesis, merging my interests in politics, international business, and foreign relations.
International work and educational experiences have enabled me to have a global perspective, which differentiated my application from the large pool of potential interns. I felt honored to represent Frankfurt School in Washington, being only one of two interns pursuing an education outside of the United States. Over the course of the summer, I made many meaningful relationships with remarkable young leaders that share the same desire to further pursue a career in public service. I have learned a great deal both professionally and individually from this experience. I learned to be diligent and let my work speak for itself. To never back down for what you believe in. To understand that you can never plan where your personal life or career will take you. And to never doubt your ability to work for a purpose larger than yourself.