The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Notes from the Field: Robert He '19

Robert He '19 interned at the White House's Office of Public Engagement during the Obama Adminstration. 

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Robert He '19 was funded by the Class of 1964 to intern at the Office of Public Engagement at the White House during the 2016 fall term. The following is an excerpt from his internship report.

In the fall of 2016, I had the immense privilege of serving as an intern in the Obama Administration at the White House. I served in the Office of Public Engagement, and helped to fulfill the President’s goal of making the White House as open and participatory as possible. In my role, I helped the White House engage with various organizations and stakeholders to further the Administration’s objectives.           

Thanks to this experience I was able to get an inside look at the operations of the highest level of Federal government. I was able to see how organizations got to share their ideas and matters with the Administration and the inner workings of how those ideas translate into policy. More generally, I got to see the day-to-day operations of the White House, not just the workings of the Office of Public Engagement. Through various opportunities, we got to learn about the President’s climate policy, health care policy, foreign policy, and several other efforts. Additionally, I learned about the White House’s relations to federal agencies as well as how lobbying groups, the legislative branch, and the executive branch fit into the greater landscape of Washington. I also had the opportunity to work at the White House during an election year, and during a presidential transition. This special moment brought rare opportunities for learning and growth professionally and personally.       

My experience clarified my academic and professional goals. Academically, I know I want to continue studying the social sciences, particularly the intersection of sociology and government. Previously my interest in this area had been mostly developed through study and formal classroom instruction. After seeing firsthand how studies in these fields translate to the day-to-day, I have grown even more interested in studying more complex concepts and higher level courses. Professionally, I know that I want to continue doing impactful work that will give me the same sense of purpose that I had every day when I woke up to work at the White House. Future professional plans might involve or focus on one of the initiatives that I worked on at the White House.

I would like to acknowledge the grant I received from the Rockefeller Center to make this experience possible. Without it, I would not have had the experiences that I did. I would also like thank the generous contribution from the Class of 1964 for making my internship a reality.

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