Connecting People with Politics: My Internship at the White House

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By Jazmin Kay ∣ Bachelor of Arts in Political Science ∣ May 2019 (expected)

From a young age, I have always been motivated by the power to create positive change. This passion for advocating for others beyond myself was always something with which I grappled. How could I turn this passion into something that I could work towards every day? How could I help the most people? I found that the answer to this call was for me to connect people with politics.

When Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) was first elected to the presidency of the United States in 2008, I was ten years old.  Growing up during the Obama Administration, I had always admired the work that was being done. However, the young girl wearing an over-sized Obama t-shirt staying up past her bedtime to watch the election results from her couch never imagined she would one day be able to see firsthand how the work happens within the White House.

Serving as a White House intern one thing became clear to me: the Obama Administration worked tirelessly every day to ensure every American had a fair shot and would be able to reach their full potential regardless of their zip code, gender, religion, or race.

As an intern in the White House Office of Digital Strategy (ODS), I was able to witness this commitment hands-on and engage people across the nation to amplify the president’s message. From drafting content for the official White House social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr, to authoring blogs on such topics as women’s rights, education, climate change, and making a difference in one’s community — ODS provided a collaborative, creative, and meaningful workplace for me to learn and explore how the Executive Office of the President uses digital tools to further engagement with the American people.  Additionally, I had the opportunity to help out with the first-ever White House festival, South by South Lawn, and attended a weekly speaker series with senior White House officials that had included the president himself as well as First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden, and many others.

Overall, my experience as a part of the White House Internship Program, specifically as a member of the incredible ODS team, helped support my passion for public service and inspired me to work even harder to ensure equal opportunity for all and to take what I had learned back home to my community in New York and to my life here as a student on campus.

I remember on my first visit to George Washington University on Admitted Students Day, I had sat on the pavement in front of the White House with my mom and imagined one day walking through the gates behind me. From the four blocks between GW’s campus and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, there is almost a palpable feeling that one can create change in the world. As GW students, we are uniquely positioned to go out and make the world a better place. My internship at the White House helped solidify this belief. If we as students, friends, and citizens, can all come together and create innovative new approaches to the challenges in the world, there will be nothing that we cannot accomplish together.

Jazmin received funding support for her Fall 2016 internship at the White House thru a grant from the GW Knowledge in Action Career Internship Fund (KACIF). If you would like to review KACIF funding options for your Summer 2017 internship, please review information on the program and application timelines and procedures at go.gwu.edu/internfund.  The KACIF Summer 2017 Early Decision application period began February 15, and runs thru March 1, 2017; the Summer 2017 General Application period will run April 1-15, 2017. 

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