Students can intern at the White House — one of the most influential buildings in the world — under the White House Internship Programme (WHIP).
If you are a US citizen interested in public policy, political strategy or legislative affairs, consider this internship a stepping stone to extending your knowledge and skills in the field.
The best part about this paid internship is that you will work with one of 24 departments within the White House to provide critical support to the Biden-Harris Administration.
While applications for the Fall 2022 session have now closed, the White House website recommends that keen applicants check the site by Sept. 2022 to view the application portal for the Spring 2023 session. The following information is based on information available online.
With that said, here is everything you need to know about securing an internship at the White House:
White House Internship Programme: Important things to know
In June 2022, the Biden administration announced that the Fall 2022 session would be the Oval Office’s first paid class of interns, saying that “unpaid federal internships have been a barrier to hardworking and talented students and professionals.”
Interns are paid at a rate of US$750 a week. Stipends will be distributed in two instalments: the first payment will be made at or around the start of the internship programme, and the final payment will be delivered once the interns complete their programme.
If you fail to complete any or part of the programme, you will be required to repay the amount equal to the uncompleted time.
You’ll have the privilege of working with one of 24 departments within the White House, playing your role in assisting the Biden-Harris Administration. You can rank your preferred departments before submitting your application, but the WHIP team will have the final say in allocating you to your department. That decision is based on your experience, interests and unique duties of each White House department.
The 24 departments cover a wide range of interests. The Office of Digital Strategy (ODS) manages the President’s online communications across social media, digital influencers and creators, and creative production.
For those interested in intergovernmental affairs, the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs grants you the chance to build and maintain relationships with elected officials around the country. You can also intern with the Office of Legislative Affairs to witness how Senators, Representatives, and their staff work to promote the President’s priorities.
As a White House intern, you can expect to be fully engaged in the day-to-day work of your assigned department. Generally, your assignments range from conducting research, managing incoming inquiries, attending meetings, writing memos, and staffing events. Interns are brought together a few hours each week to engage in structured educational programming, including a speaker series with senior White House staff.
While the programme does not restrict international students from any country to apply, you must be a US citizen that is at least 18 years or older before the first day of the programme.
You must also meet one of the three criteria as stated below:
- Currently enrolled in an accredited undergraduate or graduate degree programme at a college, community college, or university (at a two-to-four-year institution)
- Graduated from an accredited undergraduate or graduate programme at a college, community college, or university (at a two-to-four-year institution) no more than two years before the first day of the internship programme
- A veteran of the US Armed Forces who possesses a high school diploma or its equivalent and has served on active duty (for any length of time) no more than two years before the first day of the Executive Office of The President Internship Programme
If you are a male born after Dec. 31, 1959, and are at least 18 years of age, US civil service employment law requires you to be registered with the Selection Service System (SSS). It is an independent agency of the US government that maintains information on citizens potentially subject to military conscription. You do not need to register with the SSS if you meet specific exemptions, such as being hospitalised or incarcerated.
Applicants who advance to further stages of the application must also complete the Standard Form (SF) 86 to determine whether they meet security eligibility requirements. Here are some of the information requested on the form that could affect your eligibility:
- An applicant’s connection to foreign governments
- Criminal history
- Financial debts
- Tax compliance
- Prior drug use (including marijuana, regardless of whether the marijuana use was permitted under state law)
On top of the eligibility requirements, you can do a few things to make your application stand out. The White House website notes that it would be beneficial for applicants to demonstrate an interest in public service and a commitment to the values of the Biden-Harris Administration through schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and previous work or internship experience.
How to apply
You’ll need to create an account the first time you access the application portal. Once you have created an account, submit two letters of recommendation for your application.
Anyone who speaks to your qualifications, character, and commitment to public service can write a recommendation letter. The letter should be addressed “To Whom It May Concern” or “White House Internship Programme Review Team.”
You can check the website from Sept. 2022 to view the application portal for the Spring 2023 session.
For details or queries, visit the White House’s website.