Binghamton University has White House intern
By Katie EllisWhen the White House Internship Program announced participants for its summer 2012 session, it included Katherine Schumacher, who graduated from Binghamton University in May with a degree in human development.
A Binghamton native, Schumacher was one of 146 interns serving at the White House for eight weeks this summer in the program that was established to make the White House accessible to future leaders around the nation and to prepare those devoted to public service for future leadership opportunities.The last time a Binghamton University student was selected for the program was in 2002, when David Goldberg interned in the Office of Management and Budget in the Executive Office of the President.
Two campus representatives from the Career Development Center, Nancy Paul, director, and Eileen Bauer-Hagerbaumer, assistant director, accepted an invitation to the White House in January to learn more about the internship program. The visit strengthened Binghamton's connection with the program, Paul said, and helped students become aware of the opportunity to apply.
Michael Lawson, assistant professor of human development, encouraged Schumacher to apply and worked with her on her application for the highly competitive selection process. Applicants must illustrate their qualifications, character and commitment to public service, as well as submit responses to two essay questions, along with two letters of recommendation and a résumé. Approximately 6,000 students apply each year for one of the three sessions offered through the program.
Activities that helped Schumacher qualify for the internship included serving as an America Reads tutor for local students with special needs and spending six weeks in East Africa learning about NGOs and international development.
The unpaid interns work in one of several White House departments. Schumacher worked in the Office of Management and Administration, providing operational support to keep the White House and its many offices running smoothly. Her duties included scheduling, answering phone calls and responding to messages. She also scheduled and prepared events and meetings for the interns in the department. "Interns are given plenty of responsibility," Schumacher said.
"It has been refreshing and challenging to be immersed in a professional culture oriented around public service," Schumacher said. "Interns are given many opportunities to learn, grow and contribute not only at the White House, but in the D.C. community as well. As a young professional and as a citizen, I feel empowered."
All interns attend weekly events including a weekly speaker series with senior staff members and small group meetings exploring different policy aspects of the Executive Office through speakers, discussion and off-site field trips. With its emphasis on service, interns participate in service projects at schools and non-profit organizations in Washington, D.C. "In conjunction with my office duties, I also lead a group of interns in a service project at the Homeless Children's Playtime Project in D.C.," Schumacher said.
"The internship program is extremely well organized and packed with avenues to pursue many different public service roles," she added. "I have even more of an obligation to serve my community than ever before and I'll be better prepared to do so."
This fall Schumacher plans to apply to graduate schools to pursue a degree in social work or social policy. During her year off, she hopes to work with a community-based organization assisting youth as they transition into adulthood. Her career goals include translating research on the outcomes of youth in child welfare into policy and practice. She also has a passion for creative writing and would love to be part of a creative therapy program for disadvantaged youth and their families.