Chicago area students get White House internships

March 15, 2010 3:29:47 PM PDT
They read mail, organize meetings and occasionally get coffee. Nonetheless, it is one of the most prestigious internships in the world.

Several Chicago area students are getting the education of a lifetime working as White House interns.

It is the internship that opens doors. Each year, 100 young men and women are selected from cities big and small across the country to be White House interns. And with a president from Chicago, his hometown is well represented.

Matt Lind, 22, of Homer Glen works in the White House correspondence office reading the President's mail.

"There have been a few, the specifics are really just heart wrenching," said Lind.

Lind is on a team that reads the nearly 65,000 letters the president receives each week. About 100,000 emails and 1,000 faxes arrive each day. Of those, President Obama reads 10 each night.

"A lot of times they'll say 'I've never written the president before, I'm not looking for a handout," said Lind.

The president talked about the impact of the messages in a video posted on the White House web site.

Obama said, "It ends up being a powerful motivator for me."

"There have been a few, the specifics are really just heart wrenching," said Lind.

"It's unreal. Not everyone has the opportunity to hear stories of challenges people face. It's absolutely eye opening," said Stephen Spector, White House intern.

While they're called White House interns the reality is most only set foot in this building a few times. Much of their work is done next door and in other non-descript buildings across Washington where issues are debated and policy is set.

Evan Kereiakes is a University of Chicago MBA student interning with the National Economic Council.

"Just to be in that room, hear how policy is debated and shaped. It actually gave me butterflies," said Kereiakes.

"Yeah we do get to go to meetings. Yeah my boss does say 'so what do you think? Do you think this is a good idea? What would your approach be?'" said Natasha Sarin, White House intern.

It's an unpaid internship with experience and prestige that's priceless.

Related links:

  • Apply to be a White House intern: whitehouse.gov
  • White House video on Presidential correspondence: whitehouse.gov

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