Michelle Bloom ‘13 walked across the Cistern Yard and into the White House between May and September, 2013. An honors student and political science and international studies double major, she was always interested in politics but was never quite sure how to break in. Volunteer experience and a conversation with her parents led her to apply to the White House fall internship program, and with this incredible experience under her belt, things are only looking up.
Q: How did you find out about the White House Internship program?
A: My parents suggested it as an opportunity during my senior year of college.
Q: Which White House office are you working in and what are your day-to-day responsibilities?
A: I am assigned to the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, where I work on youth outreach as well as the “Champions of Change” program.
Q: What do you think made you stand out in the application process?
A: I think the many previous internships I’ve completed and campaigns I have volunteered with helped, as well as what I learned being in Charleston. Given my experiences with Southern politics and culture, I believe I was able to offer a perspective on politics and culture that differed from the other applications.
Q: What are your plans following the internship?
A: Right now I am thinking about jobs in education policy or possibly working on more campaigns.
Q: How has this experience shaped your long-term career goals?
A: Since working on youth outreach, I have become very interested in the education sector and think I may want to become more involved with it. Additionally, because of what I have heard from so many of the other interns who worked on the Obama Campaign and are now considering the next presidential race is approaching, I am also considering working on a presidential campaign.
Q: What do you enjoy the most about your position?
A: I love working with the other interns, it’s great to be in a position surrounded by so many other young, bright, and enthusiastic people. I have also really enjoyed being a part of events, especially the Champions of Change events.
Q: What College of Charleston classes best prepared you for this experience?
A: I think Professor Jordan Ragusa’s Congress class prepared me most for this experience because I learned so much about the inner-workings of Congress and the government, so I knew what to expect when I arrived. This came in handy especially during the shutdown, to try and understand the different bills that were drafted, and when I would get to go back to work.
Q: What advice would you give to current students interested in a career in politics?
A: Try to be as involved as possible during both the school year and the summer, and meet as many political and like-minded people as you can. Those are the people you’re going to be working with in the future.
Q: What do you think is valuable about interning after you’ve graduated from college?
A: I like interning because I get a taste of the political sphere and working in government before I have to sign a contract and make a full commitment; I have learned a lot in this short period of time about which careers would be right for me and which ones would not.
Q: What do you think is the most effective way for students to find an internship that will be valuable for them as skill– and résumé–building experience?
A: Although applying to various internships has worked for me in the past, truthfully talking to friends who are interested in the same things I am has helped me the most. Friends and family can help guide you to finding a meaningful internship. And don’t be afraid to start small, because it can lead to more connections much better positions down the road.
Q: Anything you’d like to add about your college and professional experience?
A: I loved my time at the College of Charleston, but I do regret not getting involved sooner. I had held internships during the summers, but during the school year I was mostly focused on schoolwork and believe I missed out on some friendships and connections I could have made had I joined more clubs or reached out to my political friends sooner.
Thumbnail photo courtesy of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.