Senior Julia Ross Recounts Fall Semester Spent as White House Intern

white house internWeekly, the world gathers around their television to tune in to shows depicting the Oval Office and Washington, D.C., but Julia Ross, a UT senior, was in the heart of the action as an intern in the nation’s capital.

Ross, an economics major from Hendersonville, Tennessee, spent the fall semester as an intern in the White House’s Office of Scheduling and Advance. She supported both scheduling staff in Washington, D.C and advance teams preparing for President Barack Obama’s visits across the nation as well as to Estonia, China, Burma, Australia, and India.

She joined the advance staff in Atlanta to prepare for Obama’s visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in September and again joined the team preparing for his recent visit to Knoxville.

Working at the White House meant no two days were the same.

“Walking through the gates of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue every morning was a special thrill,” she said.

“All of the staff I interacted with felt privileged to serve the American people,” Ross said. “I found staffers at all levels were open to meeting with interns, and I have benefited greatly from the professional relationships I developed both within my department and across the White House.”

Although she didn’t spend time with the president, she did greet first lady Michelle Obama and describes as her as “very warm and personable.”​

Ross said the internship helped her discover new leadership skills—ones she expects will help her as she pursues a career in public service.

“The importance of prioritizing goals, engaging in transparent communication, and identifying mentors particularly stand out as leadership lessons,” she said.

Ross said interacting with the other interns—all college students from around the country—and contributing to the Obama administration in a small way made the internship an opportunity of a lifetime.

In the midst of the many TV shows depicting the White House, Ross said that her day-to-day life was nothing like the silver screen.

Her only comparison?

“The long hours seemed accurate.”

The White House internship is open for college students across the country, and applications are being accepted now for fall 2015.

UT’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy and Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships helped Ross develop her application materials and prepare for an interview.

For more information on the White House internships, visit whitehouse.gov/about/internships and onsf.utk.edu.

CONTACT:

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, ablakely@utk.edu)