Ian Taylor Jr., a senior at the University of Minnesota, has traded in maroon and gold for white. 

Taylor, a 2011 Woodbury High School graduate, is serving as an intern at the White House for the spring, Jan. 12 through May 1. 

The White House Internship Program provides a unique opportunity to gain valuable professional experience and build leadership skills, according to the White House website. 

The Woodbury Bulletin conducted an interview with Taylor via e-mail, and here are his responses:

 

 How did you first hear about the White House intern opportunity?                     

I heard about the White House Internship Program for the first time after volunteering for President Obama’s Grassroots Re-Election Campaign in 2012, but did not apply for it at that time. Last summer, a friend of mine who had interned in the White House emailed me encouraging me to apply. That is when I took the chance. 

 

Why was it something you were interested in? 

I felt that interning at the White House would be a great opportunity to learn how to work in a fast-paced environment while also connecting with others involved in public service. Furthermore, the application process itself attracted me because we were required to create a policy memo. My memo proposed restructuring current federal education grants to support the development of counseling initiatives as disciplinary alternatives in public schools. It was an in-depth research process that was inspired by my desire to off-set mass incarceration in the United States by attacking the school-to-prison pipeline. 

Also, I felt inspired to apply for the honor of serving our nation’s first black President.

 

What was the application and selection process like?

I can speak to the application because that was the side I was on. In addition to the policy memo, there were essays we had to write and background information we had to supply. 

It required that I really dig deep into the meaning of my life and work experiences. 

It was a large amount of information but I think the major challenge for me was submitting all the information in a short time window with limited Internet connectivity. I did the application while I was in Zambia and Kenya and had limited connection to the Internet. 

 

What qualifications must interns have?

The fine details of the required qualifications are on the website. There are applicants from a wide variety of backgrounds. There are college students, veterans, law students, Ph.D. candidates and more.  To be eligible, candidates must be: 1) United States citizens; 2) at least 18 years of age; and 3) currently enrolled in or a recent graduate (within 2 years) of a undergraduate or graduate degree program at a college, community college, or university or a veteran of the United States Armed Forces who has served on active duty within the last two years. To be competitive, applicants should demonstrate a commitment to public service and leadership experience in their communities.

 

For what duties are you responsible? 

I intern in the Front Office for the Office of Management and Administration. I help streamline administrative processes across different departments and teams throughout the complex to do so.  

 

What were you most looking forward to about the experience?

I was most excited to learn from others around me about their professional paths and plans for the future. I want to expand my network and reflect more on what I would like to do in the future. 

 

What are some of the things you are hoping to take away from the experience? 

I hope that I leave with more friends and mentors who I can keep in touch with as I start my professional endeavors. I want to build a reputation as a strong intern who went beyond the responsibilities he was assigned in order to support his staff and by extension the Obama Administration. 

 

How do you think this internship will help you in the future? 

I think having a positive White House experience will help me mostly because of the connections I develop here, not only with potential mentors but with my peers who also have plans of doing amazing things. Having been a White House intern, I must hold myself to a high standard in every endeavor I engage in from now on because others will have that expectation of me. I think the weight of this expectation will make me stronger. 

 

Is politics something you are interested in pursuing? 

No, but I am interested in learning about policy and social enterprise.

 

What are you studying at the U of M?

I am majoring in African and African-American studies and minoring in English Literature.

 

an Taylor Jr. worked as a Woodbury Bulletin intern in the summer of 2011