Attending Embry-Riddle has been a great experience for me and has opened up opportunities I never thought possible. I am a senior set to graduate in December of 2019. My major is Homeland Security and I have a minor in Terrorism Studies. The professors in my degree program have all been extremely helpful throughout my time here and have encouraged me to pursue opportunities such as the White House Internship.
How did you obtain your internship with the White House?
I went through the application process which is available on the WhiteHouse.gov website. It is a straight forward application. It requires a section of short answers and also you are required to write an essay. I would suggest to anyone applying to make sure when answering not to sound robotic and not to write what you think they want to hear. Be genuine in your answers.
What surprised you most about the selection process for this opportunity?
I was appreciative that they did not count someone out if they had no political experience. I was in the restaurant industry for 8 years prior to this internship and do not have school activities because I had to work as much as possible. I really liked that they looked at all the experiences as different and valuable. They factor in all the components of your application. Where I lacked in school related activities, I made up for it in my work experience and my volunteer activities.
What skills came in handy and what skills did you develop while on internship?
The communication skills I developed throughout my prior work experience came in handy. Also, having work experience in general helped as I was able to apply my work ethic throughout this internship. Throughout my time in the internship program I developed a set of professional skills. I learned different computer systems and I was able to work in a very professional environment which was something new to me as I was always in a restaurant environment. I also learned that it is not only OK, but good to ask questions if you do not understand something fully. It shows your supervisors that you care and want to get it done right the first time.
How important is networking in your field now that you have had this great opportunity?
Networking is extremely important not only in my field, but in any field. This internship allowed me the opportunity to network and my supervisors were very helpful in setting me up meetings with those departments in my career path interests. To this day, I still keep in contact with those I met during my internship. I think it is very important to build connections with people and not just because you want that job, but because you value their knowledge and can learn from their experiences.
What advice do you have for students interested in obtaining an opportunity that they fear they do not have relevant experience in?
Never doubt yourself and think you do not have what it takes to obtain your goal. I applied for the White House two times prior to actually getting accepted. I decided I would continue to work hard in school and at my job. I had zero experience in a political background. I was a bartender and that was all I knew in the work environment. One of my supervisors actually said that my work experience is what stood out to them. It was something they felt would be different, a different perspective. Even if you don’t have a background in that exact field, you have experience somewhere else and that can be utilized. Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Always remember that everyone has to start somewhere.