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The White House Internship Program: My Transformational Experience

Jeremiah Glenn, a previous White House intern, describes his experience and encourages others to apply for the internship program.

Ed. Note: The White House Internship Program is currently accepting applications for the Spring, 2012. Applicants have until September 11, 2011 to apply for a Spring, 2012 White House Internship.

I first met President Obama during the primaries on the campaign trail at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, while he was filming a comedy skit for the Late Show with David Letterman. At the time, I was student body president and somehow convinced the Secret Service agents, with the help of our campus security officials, to give me five to ten minutes with the inspiring U.S. Senator. During our brief conversation, I told him that he would become President of the United States and that when it happened, I would come to the White House to work for him. On July 4th of 2009, on the South Lawn of the White House during the Independence Day festivities, I personally delivered the message to inform the newly elected President and First Lady that I had made good on my promise and was serving as an inaugural class White House Intern in the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Born and raised in Alexander City, a small town in Alabama with a population of less than 15,000 people, I was ecstatic to learn that I had been selected to serve a President who had inspired me to pursue my dreams. Prior to attending college, I served as a Fleet Marine Force Hospital Corpsman in the U.S. Navy and fought in the Middle East. My unique background and the internship experience made my time in the White House Internship Program one of the most transformational experiences of my entire life.

A typical day for me, at the White House, began with an early morning staff meeting. Next, I would put together a morning report on relevant headlines for a Senior Advisor to the President. Subsequently, I would spend time sorting correspondence from elected officials and placing follow-up phone calls. Afterwards, I would prepare conference rooms to greet some of the nation’s leaders as they visited the White House for various meetings. Later, I returned to my office and conducted research and drafted various reports for senior staff projects. In addition, every week the internship class participated in a weekly speaker series, where we heard from senior members of the Administration including the President, Vice President, First Lady, Chief of Staff, Director of Speechwriting, Secretary of State, Secretary of Education, and others. I was also selected to serve as a mentor for the D.C. Scholars Program, through which graduating high school seniors from Washington, D.C. complete an internship at the White House.

The White House Internship Program changed my life, and more importantly, my perspective on what is possible in the world. I strongly encourage any person who is compelled by a need to contribute positive things to the world, to seriously consider applying to the program right now.

Jeremiah Glenn is a previous intern for the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs from the Summer, 2009 session.