The building itself can be intimidating.
When you start working at the White House, there’s a rush around you. It all seems like pure chaos at the pace everyone’s working. The schedule is packed and demands are exceptionally high. Even as an intern, many scenarios are sink-or-swim with little to no time to prepare.
As the days go by, you get better and better at each task until you suddenly believe you can make it.
You never know what can become of each day. Volunteers might be needed at an event or special occasion. After the tragic Paris attacks in November, when President Obama and French President Hollande had a joint press conference in the East Room, I was fortunate enough to get to assist with the event. It was one of the most memorable moments of the internship and my life.
My colleagues are ordinary and chose to do something extraordinary.
That’s my favorite thing about them. They are undoubtedly some of the most hardworking and diligent people I’ve met in my life, and come from all different regions, faiths, upbringings and beliefs.
My job entails spending roughly 12 hours every weekday and some more hours on weekends poring over the news. It’s natural to start picking up on the rhythm of the national media.
Every evening when I leave, I look at the scenic beauty of the White House and hope I’ve done my task well.
It took me three years of applying before I was accepted to an internship. It stung.
After the first applications, I turned to local opportunities to try and make an impact. I helped strategize a local school board campaign, took on more and more responsibility as an LA County intern, and served as a senator on ASCLUG. I also chased a personal dream of traveling around the world and being exposed to cultures, including the Semester at Sea.
Pursuing my other passions made me a stronger candidate when I applied again, because of my initiative in all aspects of life.
When I should have been searching for a job and making my post-college plans, I was up late into the night for two months writing a narrative on my final White House application. Despite my doubts, without fail every night I would redouble my efforts.
Then I accidentally hung up on the White House. I was in an economics final with Professor [Kirk] Lesh when I got the first two phone calls. I hung up – it was from a blocked number, I was in a final, and I wasn’t expecting a call from the White House. I was in a final with Professor [José] Marichal when they called a third time and I hung up yet again. But they left a message.
When I finally got to the White House as an intern, I had an opportunity to prove myself and was determined to make it count. I arrived early and stayed late each day. When I was told it was time to head out for the evening, I’d stay an extra 30 minutes or more. I did all this with the conviction that I would never get an opportunity like it again.
Every member of my family has
sacrificed for others.
My father, also a CLU grad [Timothy ’01], was in the Navy, was part of Ventura County Search and Rescue for 15 years, and is an active member in the Simi Valley
community. My mother, another CLU grad [Kimberly ’92, T.C. ’93], is a public school teacher. My grandfather served in Army Intelligence in the Vietnam era, and started a local company with my grandmother that employed people all over the world for over 30 years. I have an aunt who was also a public school teacher who worked with disadvantaged
students and another aunt who adopted Russian twins as a single mother.
Since I was young, I’ve wanted to help others, and I think that’s essential to living in our society and making it work. I think government can do and does a lot for people. I don’t know if this belief will keep me in politics and government after this job, but as long as what I do might improve just one person’s life, it’ll all be worth it.
This work is all-consuming and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
A phrase I’ve heard to describe the White House staff experience: “The President is running a marathon while the staff are in a sprint.” Until January of 2017, I’m sprinting and giving it everything I have.
The most personal time I have is about 40 minutes during my commute to and from work. In the morning I go over my day planning, while at night I call my dad and try to keep up with everyone at home.
I think when I’m done I’d like to sleep for a while, and then go experience something completely different.