Courtney Corbisiero is one of two GW students who received the coveted internship this summer.
While flocks of tourists posed for photos outside the White House this summer, senior Courtney Corbisiero was inside, getting a firsthand look at the inner-workings of the Executive Office and interacting with the nation’s most influential politicians.
Ms. Corbisiero was one of two students, along with senior Liz Rawson, to receive a White House internship this summer. The competitive internship program aims to shape strong leaders by selecting students from all over the country who show a commitment to public service.
Ms. Corbisiero is no stranger to the world of politics. The political science major took a year off of school in 2012 to work on President Barack Obama’s campaign, interning first at his Chicago headquarters and then serving as a digital organizer in Ohio. She also said courses at GW—recognized by the Princeton Review as the most politically active school in the country—solidified her interest in media and politics, particularly classes with Associate Professor of Political Science John Sides.
It was her passion for web approaches to political communication that fueled her decision to apply for a White House internship in the Office of Digital Strategy. The position gave her insight into how the American government uses popular social media platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, Vine and Instagram, to amplify the president’s message.
Her first day on the job proved just how seriously the White House takes its interns. After getting a quick rundown of the office, Ms. Corbisiero received her first task: drafting text for the Weekly Wrap Up, the White House’s official blog update of Washington happenings.
“What surprised me the most was how much responsibility the interns got. We had a lot on our plates, we worked long hours, and we had a lot of opportunities to make an impact on the White House,” she said.
Each day, Ms. Corbisiero wrote copy and edited blogs posted on whitehouse.gov and letsmove.gov, a site dedicated to First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiative to fight obesity. Ms. Corbisiero also scoured through stories submitted online from people across the nation to see how the Obama administration’s policies were directly affecting Americans.
One of the most valuable parts of the internship, Ms. Corbisiero said, was a weekly speaker series in which senior officials from the Obama administration addressed White House interns. The last three weeks boasted visits from the first lady, Vice President Joe Biden and, to end the series, President Obama. Although Ms. Corbisiero had met the president while working on his campaign in Chicago, she was thrilled about having another chance to interact with him.
The Office of Digital Strategy is located in the Executive Office Building next to the West Wing, a prime location for running into Washington’s leading figures. Ms. Corbisiero explained the most exciting and surreal part of the internship was casually crossing paths with the people she most admires.
“A few weeks ago, I walked outside and saw Hillary Clinton leaving from a lunch she’d had with President Obama. I sat outside with my friend and, all of a sudden, Secretary of State John Kerry comes in, followed by Attorney General Eric Holder. You’re in this place with the most powerful people in the world, and they’re all just walking around next to you,” she remembered.
Ms. Corbisiero also said she greatly valued the chance to interact with like-minded interns devoted to public service.
“It’s great to see so many people dedicated to the cause and willing to come out to D.C. for this internship,” she said. “We had an unbelievably rewarding experience.”