The big news last week was that President Barack Obama announced the White House is officially looking for interns. This would be an amazing opportunity for college students. I wanted to take a moment to discuss ways to increase your chances of getting that internship. I’d like to show you how to apply some of my frequent internship advice to this specific opportunity.
The Wall Street Journal explained the requirements for the White House Internship
“The application requires a resume, three references and requests 300-500 word responses to three essay questions. The questions are as follows:
1. Explain your commitment to public service and service to country generally—include an instance when you asserted your leadership in a community or civic activity, what you learned, and how you think this internship could further advance your leadership and personal goals in this area.
2. Which of the president’s policies, initiatives or campaign achievements is most important to you? Why?
3. Choose one of your preference offices and explain why you want to work there and what you would bring to the office.
The deadline to apply is March 22 and the program runs from May 22 to August 14.”
TIPS FOR GETTING THE WHITE HOUSE INTERNSHIP
1. RESUME MAKEOVER. Read the Resume Advice on my previous Blog, Create the Perfect Resume. If you have several previous internships/work experience on your resume, make sure to keep it down to one page. Try to only include relevant work. You are applying to a Public Service internship. Any volunteer work is relevant in this case. Keep your resume in standard and traditional format. No pictures, crazy colors, fonts, patterns, etc. Use a thick cream colored paper if possible. At the bottom, write *References available upon request. This is your chance to sell yourself on paper – look professional and experienced. Take a close look at all of your previous jobs and really expand on your tasks within each job/internship. You want to be clear on your skills and capabilities.
2. GREAT LETTERS OF REC. Just like most formal internship programs, this one requires 3 letters of reccomendation. I suggest college students get one academic reference (professor), one professional reference (former employer), and one character reference (from a family friend). If someone is too busy to write a letter for you, write it yourself and bring it to them. This gives you the opportunity to say what you’d like about yourself and to really make yourself shine. The employer or professor will read over it, hopefully approve it, sign it, and place it on company letterhead. If you can get a letter from a former internship coordinator that would be a bonus. Also, when getting your character reference try to do it from a close family friend that can speak on your loyalty, work ethic, personality, etc. They can sometimes reference more personal situations than employers or professors.
3. CONSTRUCT GREAT TIGHT ESSAYS. When writing your answers to the essay questions, keep your answers tight and try not to go on irrelevant tangents. Remember, someone is reading these and you don’t want to put them to sleep. If you can’t think of a time when you were of great service to the country or took on a leadership role ask your friends and family. The people close to you can help by thinking of times when your leadership skills really stood out in there eyes. It’s always interesting to get the opinion of others and find out what you’ve done to impress them in the past.
4. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. The second essay question is a perfect example of why it’s important to research the company (or in this case the President and his policies) before applying for an internship. Make sure that you don’t answer this question blindly. Research The President’s policies completely, before attempting to answer this question. Reference articles, specific Campaign activities/speeches or websites in your essay. This will make you sound more informed and make you look well prepared.
5. APPLY FOR WHAT YOU ARE BEST AT. If your experience is in Public Relations, than apply for the Public Affairs office. Go with where your experience lies. You need to get in the door and applying to a department where you have no experience is too risky for this competitive internship. Look closely at all of the offices you have to choose from, and apply for what you are best trained to do.
You still have time to apply for this so get started and good luck !
I asked my friend’s on Twitter what they thought of the White House Internship Program for Students:
“I think it’s a great opportunity and definitely will look good on any resume.” @schlossy, http://www.dailydollarreport.com/.
“That would be an awesome opportunity 4 anyone who wanted to get in2 politics or public affairs.” @cblaser, Student at University of Oregon.
“Good idea. I bet they learn good habits there.” @bookgirl96, Publicist.
Links to WhiteHouse Internship Stories:
WhiteHouse on WHI: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/09/02/26/Apply-for-an-internship/