The White House Internship Program gives people the opportunity to gain experience in a political environment and network with important people. All internships are unpaid and interns must provide for their own housing and transportation. But the benefits of working in an internship can potentially offset the lack of compensation. Depending upon the internship assignment, you might spend your days around powerful political figures as they guide national policy. On the other hand, you might end up sitting at a desk all day or filing paperwork.
Under the George W. Bush presidential administration, the White House would select 100 interns to work during the spring, summer and fall semesters. To become an intern, you had to meet the following criteria:
- You had to be at least 18 years old and a citizen of the United States.
- You had to be a current student in an undergraduate or graduate program or you had to have graduated the previous semester.
- You had to fill out an application form, which included questions about your party affiliation and whether or not you voted in the previous election.
- You had to respond to four essay questions.
- You had to submit a résumé, three references and a cover letter.
- You had to agree to a background security check and take a drug test.
Applicants could indicate which offices they'd most like to work in but were not guaranteed a spot in those departments. They didn't have to interview with anyone -- the White House selected interns based solely upon the applicant's submissions. The internship program may or may not change under the Obama administration.
If you want to pursue a career at the White House that isn't a political appointment, you'll need to keep an eye out for job postings. You can find those at the Office of Personnel Management's USAJOBS Web site. You can expect a highly competitive job application process. These jobs include working for specific agencies and departments in non-managerial positions. Unlike management, these jobs tend to remain unaffected during changes of administration. You can work your way up the ranks and build experience. Who knows? It may even lead to an eventual non-career position with a future president!
One thing you should remember before you apply for any position within the government is that you'll be opening yourself up for a thorough background check. But if you've been on your best behavior, display a talent for leadership, have ambition and possess the drive to help the U.S. government lead the nation, you may land yourself a job at the most famous address in America.
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