|1995 White House Interns with US Senator Diane Feinstein on her visit to the West Wing.|
NPR's Parth Shah wrote a great piece on interns in Washington DC and its hardships of working full-time unpaid internships. My personal experience as a White House intern in 1995 with President Clinton's administration was an experience of a life time. That opportunity still to this day opens doors in my career as a lobbyist.
As a USC student with limited financial means, we had to save money prior to starting our full-time internship program in addition to taking a full load of classes at USC's Washington DC program. It was impossible to get a second job because that meant we would not sleep. So with the limited funds that supported our tuition, books, rent and food...we took advantage of the intern "grapevine".
The "grapevine" was a word of mouth of communicating between interns from the White House to the Capitol Building and every Federal department in between. We would know about events where we controlled the "RSVP" list and add fellow interns in order to further network but more importantly eat and drink for free. This was also during the time of the 1995 Federal shut down, where interns were basically running Washington DC because the budget did not affect us, since we were free labor.
My parents who immigrated in the late 60's from Colombia came from a humble background and sent money whenever they could to add to my limited savings account to survive in DC. But in all honesty, if it was not for all the hard work, struggles and opportunities offered to me, I would not be the person I am today. We share great memories from meeting the leadership of America of both government and business, to sharing struggles as with fellow my interns (including Monica Lewinsky).
Written by Parth Shah