Last semester, senior Jennifer Taranto had the experience of a lifetime serving as a White House Intern. Back on campus for the first time since her sophomore year, we caught up with her recently. From meeting President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to volunteering at the annual Easter Egg Roll, she shared with us what life was like at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Reflecting back on your experience at the White House- what would you say you learned the most?
Every day at the White House was an incredible learning experience and I walked away from each day amazed and humbled at the opportunities I had. Out of everything though, I learned the most about the day-to-day functions of the Executive Branch of government and how the President relies on hundreds of capable and intelligent people to keep the Administration running. I interned in the Office of Management and Administration, which provides operational and administrative support for the White House Office. In this area, I learned about Public Administration, and the impact that administrative offices have on the larger picture of the Federal Government.
What was the most challenging thing you had to do? What was the most fun?
A part of my portfolio was running the logistics for the White House Internship Program, my informal title was an “intern-intern” which meant that I was one of the first points of contact for intern events which included weekly speaker series with Senior staff members, service projects in the D.C. community, and professional workshops. It was challenging to be in a position where I lead my peers in such a high profile environment, and challenging to organize logistics for events where we hosted some of my political role models. However, my staff was incredible in helping me to understand what was expected of my co-intern and me, and provided mentorship along with resources to make the internship fulfilling and manageable.
As for the most fun, I loved going to the White House Easter Egg Roll in April and volunteering at the event. Not only is the Easter Egg Roll a historic tradition, but it is also a fun day filled with musical performances, “egg”tivities, and appearances from the President and the First Lady.
Did you get to meet the President or the First Lady?
Yes, I met both the President and the First Lady during the course of my internship. I have always admired President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, so meeting them was a definite highlight of my entire intern experience.
What made you decide to apply for the internship?
I decided to apply to the White House Internship Program for a couple different reasons. Firstly, I had previous intern experience before at the Massachusetts State House and the Massachusetts Democratic Party. I wanted to gain experience in a setting different from those that I had previously worked in, and the White House/Executive Branch fit the bill. In addition, I am passionate about public service, and the work of the Obama Administration. With the Administration quickly coming to a close, I knew that I wanted to at least apply for the opportunity to serve within this Administration while I could. In no way did I think I would get my dream internship, but I am so thankful that my Stonehill professors, friends, and family cheered me on and kept me positive about the prospects of earning a place as a White House Intern.
What are your career goals?
Right after Stonehill, I hope to find a job that involves my love of politics and government in either the Greater Boston Area, or Washington D.C. Eventually, I hope to go to graduate school for a Master’s in Public Administration, and influence policy through an administrative/operations standpoint. Being Chief of Staff or Assistant to the President of the United States is definitely a dream job of mine.
What do you have planned for this year? Any other internship?
For this year, I am keeping busy on campus! This is my first time back to Stonehill since spring of my Sophomore year (Fall 2014, I was in London studying at University College London), and I am looking forward to enjoying every moment of my Senior year.
At Stonehill, I am a Resident Assistant in Corr Hall, the President of the Stonehill College Democrats and the Founder and Chairwoman of the Sylvia Donaldson Society for Women in Politics. Statewide, I am the Chair of the Women’s Caucus of the College Democrats of Massachusetts. These are organizations I am very passionate about, and I am ecstatic to conclude my Stonehill career by leading and serving as a mentor to other students who are interested in the political field.