Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown Student Fulfills Personal Commitment to Public Service With White House Internship Opportunity

_Each summer, over 1,000 Americans apply to work at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., and every year, less than 1 percent are accepted by the White House’s competitive internship program. Georgetown’s Letitia Wu (SFS ’11) was one of 138 lucky applicants granted the most prized of internships this past summer.

As an international politics major in the School of Foreign Service, Wu has big goals. At Georgetown, she dedicates her time to the Honor Council and the Social Action Committee for the SFS Academic Council. Originally a student at the College of William and Mary, Wu has made public service a central part of her life – for example, she participated in grassroots projects in Kenya and China. Wu’s laundry list of good deeds and huge smile are enough to inspire anyone to action._

**Describe your position at the White House.**

I officially worked in the Office of Correspondence in the office of Vice President Biden. We did everything from reading every single piece of mail that came in to him to drafting and editing responses to the general public, governors and other important officials. The correspondence office was basically the medium between the general public and the vice president.

Occasionally, I also helped with the National Security Office, but because I don’t have top-secret clearance I could only work on non-classified projects, such as helping with diplomatic visits. For example, when a diplomatic head like the crown prince of the Kingdom of Bahrain came to talk to the vice president, we prepared the Roosevelt Room for their meeting. I also had the opportunity to help with trip calls when the vice president traveled abroad.

**Who was the coolest person you met?**

Probably the vice president himself. We got to interact with the president and [the] vice president this summer, but the president is very busy and the vice president has a record of always making time for students or interns. He has never talked to a group of interns for less than two hours in his entire political career. . The intern class was fortunate to have him as one of our speakers. He would answer every single question we had for him. I found that he was the most down-to-earth politician I ever met. It was nice to know someone that personable is helping run our country.

**What qualified you for the internship?**

I think what the internship program really looks for is public service commitment. . Showing a passion towards giving back to your community is really important. I really didn’t think I was going to get the internship! My interview was probably five minutes long, and out of those five minutes I probably talked for 30 seconds. The director of administration conducted the interviews.

Regardless, I felt it was a huge honor to be offered an interview at all, and am very grateful for the acceptance. Throughout the internship, we had the opportunity to engage in public service in our community as well. Our main project involved collecting books to donate to institutions throughout the United States. This directly helped [President Obama’s Call to Service]( I think as 138 interns, we collected and delivered over 60,000 books.

**What are the hours for the internship?**

Officially the hours are 9 to 6, but unofficially you can come in as early as 7 [a.m.] and stay as late as 9 or 10 [p.m.] at night. At the correspondence office there was always work to be done – letters to read, drafts for responses to letters [to write].

**What were some perks to working at the White House?**

I was able to volunteer on the South Lawn of the White House on the Fourth of July. Watching fireworks on the South Lawn – it just doesn’t get any better than that. You just go there and think, this is surreal – the experience is priceless.

The internship program also organized many speakers for the intern class. Some of our speakers included Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Social Secretary Desiree Rogers. Interns had the opportunity to submit introduction speeches for each of these individuals and therefore the opportunity to meet them individually. We got Metro stipends too, but the White House Counsel is very strict and has extremely stringent ethical rules. We were not allowed [to] receive any benefits as a result of our position, and the same policy goes for all staffers.

**What was the energy like in the office?**

The energy in the office was very positive and ongoing. When the vice president was traveling, the scheduling and advance interns were more tired and busy than usual. Also when he had news

conferences coming up, the communications interns were busy with preparing him for the interview. Of course, the economic policy and domestic policy interns were always busy as well.

ost staffers are young, some worked on his campaign, some were asked to come on board from his Senate office. But interns were anyone from college-age kids to law students to veterans who just came back from Afghanistan. It’s a very qualified and close-knit group that works very well together. Having the opportunity to work with these individuals who help make sure the president and vice president’s lives work was definitely a privilege. This is where our nation’s decisions are made.

**Who was the kindest person you met on the job?**

The nicest person was definitely Dan Griffin, the director of correspondence for Vice President Biden. He wanted the experience to be as fulfilling for me and the other intern who worked in the office as possible. If we wanted to take the lead in drafting a response to one of Biden’s letters, he basically would let me take the reins and help me edit it before the principals would look over and sign it.

**What was your favorite part of your job?**

eeting and getting to know the people who make the policies in this country [were] pretty incredible. One of my biggest idols in life is Tina Tchen, the director of public engagement for the president, and I could just send her an e-mail. One day I sent her one saying, “I really admire all that you have done in your life. I would really like to meet, get to know and have the opportunity to talk to you.” And she quickly responded, “Just come on over,” and I just walked over to the West Wing and talked to her.

**Can you easily get into the West Wing?**

As an intern, to go into the West Wing, I had to have an escort.

**Would you do the internship again?**

Absolutely. I would love to be given the opportunity to work at the White House after I earn my degree. I recently applied for the Fulbright Fellowship though, and am very passionate about exploring labor migrant workers in China and the legal and cultural situation that surrounds them. I would love to be able to do more research on the legal and cultural aspects that surround them more than anything.

*- Interview by Kate Kauffman*”

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