CSUEB graduate interns in Nation’s Capitol

Louis LaVenture,
Sports and Campus Editor

Most people in a position of power in Washington D.C. don’t come from Fremont. However an East Bay native is trying to change that in a hurry.

California State University, East Bay 2014 graduate Erin McDonough recently wrapped up her internship within the Executive Office of the President of the United States Barack Obama.

McDonough worked as an intern in the Department of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs during her five-month tenure, which began in January and ended in May.

According to the White House website the department is responsible for organizing dialogue and events where public groups and citizens are able to voice their issues and concerns to the President. The position required a lengthy application process and only about 450 applicants are chosen to participate in just three intern semesters offered each year.

Passion and drive don’t come from money or a prestigious school. This experience changed who I am and what I believe so much, that I recommend everybody apply for the internship.

— Erin McDonough

The Mission San Jose High School alumna and Ohlone College transfer student volunteered for the Obama presidential campaign locally in 2008 and 2012. The experience led to her applying for the internship.

“I really didn’t feel like I was ready or had the necessary experience to be selected,” McDonough said. “In 2012, when I worked on the campaign, I showed people I was especially motivated and would do what I needed in order to get [Obama] elected.”

That experience paid off for her and in one of the two essays that were required to apply, which had to do with “civic duty leadership and what you have done for your community.”

McDonough argued that the long volunteer hours she logged and the outreach to potential voters from the area in addition to attending school gave her the work ethic she needed for the internship.

During her time in D.C. she worked under Valerie Jarrett, a Senior Advisor and Assistant to Obama. Jarrett is also the Vice Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

“Working for her was priceless,” McDonough said. “Her department is very important in terms of community outreach. From their front doors to the White House, it is all about connecting with the American people and bringing them in.”

Some of her internship duties included daily scheduling, updating her briefing book, staffing White House events, day-to-day handling of events and meetings as well as secondary office duties for Jarrett.

Initially, McDonough was intimidated by the position because she felt there would be a lot of Ivy League applicants. Coming from a state school, she had counted herself out. However, once she arrived she realized that your school has little to do with who is selected.

“I met people from other state schools, veterans and even people from community colleges,” McDonough said. “Passion and drive don’t come from money or a prestigious school. This experience changed who I am and what I believe so much, that I recommend everybody apply for the internship.”

McDonough said that before this experience she would have never considered a career in politics but it changed her opinion.
“After seeing what we do and how much of a difference you can make for people, I would definitely be interested in a career in politics not just federally but possibly locally as well,” McDonough said.

McDonough said she just finished a jury duty commitment and would like to travel before she begins to apply for jobs. She has not yet decided if her career path and goals will take her into the world of politics.