Paydirt Editor Lands White House Internship

WASHINGTON, D.C. February 14, 2011 – New Mexico Tech junior Victoria Carreon was selected for a prestigious White House internship this semester.
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Victoria Carreon in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 11.

Photo courtesy of the White House Press Office.


The program’s mission is to make the White House accessible to future leaders all around the nation and cultivate and prepare those devoted to public service for future leadership opportunities.

A White House Internship provides a unique opportunity to gain valuable professional experience and build leadership skills.  Interns work in one of several White House departments, including the Office of Cabinet Affairs, the Office of the Chief of Staff, the Office of Scheduling and Advance, the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, the Presidential Personnel Office, the Communications Department, the Domestic Policy Council or the Office of the First Lady – just to name a few.

Carreon is pursuing a Bachelor's in General Studies with an emphasis in Communication in Social Contexts. She was the editor of Paydirt in the fall 2010 semester and is spearheading the effort to bring back the school yearbook, Porphyry. She is a committee chair for the Alpha Sigma Kappa sorority and expects to graduate in May 2012.

For her internship, she is working in the Press Office. The White House invited Tech to submit submitt written questions to Victoria to learn about her experiences in the nation’s capital.

NMT: What are your official duties for this internship?

Victoria: My official duties involve assisting members of the New Media staff with any projects they need help with. They include editing and building e-mails in a HTML editor, as well as filtering through feedback about different pages on WhiteHouse.gov, Twitter, and Facebook.

NMT: What’s a typical day like for you at the White House?

Victoria: While there are tasks that I do daily, like proofing, a lot of what I do varies from day to day, depending on what the office is working on. There have been times since I’ve been here that I haven’t really been in the office, such as during the panels following the State of the Union address, but there have been days when I am sitting in front of a screen all day. I guess what I can say is a typical day is a day that involves a lot of social media and a lot of looking at content and a lot of assisting. Even so, I never know what I’m going to get to do next.

I don’t know when something is suddenly going to be more interesting than I thought and that makes every day exciting.

Whether it’s thrilling or just filled with minor tasks, my days tend to be full of chances to excel and every day I learn something. Because of that, every day I am thankful for the opportunity to be interning here.

 NMT: How are you applying your education at Tech to this assignment?

Victoria: New Mexico Tech is a very difficult school that requires a lot of dedication and perseverance. Here, I’m applying those characteristics to everything I do.

I’m also applying my ability to analyze data to the statistics that I work on, so having the technical skills to do that has helped a lot. Also, having taken Technical Communication courses at Tech has helped me in some of the projects I’ve been asked to do. Although there isn’t a particular class that has helped me the most, the design of the curriculum at Tech has really given me a different perspective from a lot of the other interns.

Other than that, the extracurricular activities I have participated in have really prepared me for this internship. My position with the Student Association really helped me develop my organizational skills and my professionalism. Alpha Sigma Kappa also has helped in that it allowed me to learn to apply those two attributes differently and well as develop social skills that have made it easier to connect with the people I work with.

NMT: How do you think this experience will help you in your career?

Victoria: I hope to have a career that involves both politics and communication, so I think this internship is a great way for me to gain more perspective on each of those areas of study. My goal is to be a political analyst for a news organization, so working in the Communications department definitely is allowing me to develop views on the relationship between politics and media.

Besides that, I think this internship will allow me to be a prime candidate for other positions.

NMT: What’s it like to live in Washington, D.C.?

Victoria: Living in D.C. is amazing. It’s a great place in pretty much every sense of the word. It’s beautiful and is full of historic buildings that amaze me with their age and majestic qualities. The people are so friendly and helpful. Although it is a lot different than New Mexico, it’s been really easy to get used to and there are so many options for entertainment.

The museums are incredibly interesting and there is something for anything you could be interested in. To be able to read books at the Library of Congress is a great experience. It seems like everywhere I go, there is a history that is waiting to be read or told.

The excitement of seeing the Capitol and the White House and to know that this is where the important decisions are being made is a very unique feeling. This city really allows you to experience the core of America.

NMT: What were your first thoughts when you found out you’d been selected for this internship?

Victoria: I was amazed and honored to be making my family, my friends, my school, and my state proud. I honestly was overwhelmed with excitement. In many ways, though, I was shocked ... and relieved. This internship was in my heart and my mind for almost three months and I just felt like after all the hoping, finger-crossing, and the praying, I was being blessed with it. It was such an intense set of emotions. I think the first thing I said was “Oh my gosh,” and that is exactly what I was thinking and feeling. It was just pure disbelief, but in the best way possible.

I was also thinking that I wasn’t going to do this just for me and my future, but for anyone who strives to meet a goal and who takes a chance even when the outcome is uncertain. So much of what was on my mind was for my family – for my dad, a Mexican immigrant who has sacrificed so much for his daughter to have the opportunities he himself never could. It was a whirlwind of incredible thoughts and feelings.

NMT: Has this experience, thus far, had any influence on your career goals?

Victoria: Yes! I now know that this is what I want. I want to be here, in D.C. after I graduate. I want to have the chance to be a part of something greater than I am. Whether it’s by working in an office for a politician or being a politician myself, I want to be a part of the political scene. I want to be at the epicenter of it all. This internship is already giving me clarity about what I want to accomplish.

– NMT –

By Thomas Guengerich/New Mexico Tech