Gopika Mavalankar: White House Intern

Gopika Mavalankar has spent the last few months interning “abroad” at the White House. As a Higher Education intern, Gopika works with the Domestic Policy Council’s education team. She was actually in the White House during election time! Keep reading to learn about her experience and why she totally recommends it.

Describe your internship at the White House and your main tasks.

I’m the higher education intern which means I work with the Domestic Policy Council’s education team. Some of my bigger projects involved the Google College Scorecard, policy/events regarding free community college and promoting diversity in postsecondary education.

What is it like working at the White House?

It’s everything I dreamed of and more. The staffers in this administration are all so supportive of each other and also in our growth.  It’s probably one of the hardest places to work at since the learning curve is very steep, but also the most rewarding since I can see the results of my work in real life.  The hours can be really long, but there was never a boring day or a day where I felt like I wanted to be anywhere else. The day after the election was something I’ll never forget. At first, it felt like a nightmare, but I think everyone committed to working even harder to help cement the President’s legacy.

Describe a few highlights during your internship.

I got to meet Team USA when they came to the White House, and was able to talk to some of the Olympians that I had watched on TV a few weeks before. We attended the last state arrival ceremony, where the President welcomed Prime Minister Renzi of Italy. Another highlight is having the President, Vice President, First Lady and other senior officials come speak to our intern class. I will never forget meeting the First Lady and getting a hug from her; I felt like she genuinely cared about us and listened to our stories.

Describe a memorable moment you’ve had working the White House.

Listening to the President tell us to follow our passions or getting a hug from the First Lady.

What do you think you’ve gained from this experience?

I’ve learned that I should never compromise my passion. My passion got me into the White House and was only fueled by the work I got to do. I hope to return to public service one day because of this experience.

What’s different about doing an internship as opposed to a regular academic quarter?

I was working 45-60+ hours a week plus I took a part-time job at a bakery on weekends. I didn’t have that much free time, and I don’t think I would’ve been able to juggle the White House internship with school. I especially loved not studying or stressing for finals.

Would you recommend doing an internship at the White House/ do you have any advice for prospective students looking for a similar internship?

I 100% recommend it because of the experience and connections made. Unfortunately, it is unpaid which I think unfairly affects low-income students. UC Davis provided no support, and my family was supportive enough to help out and took out loans. Personally, I would do whatever it takes to intern at the White House if I had to do it all over again. This experience has given me new confidence, connections and skills, and I have already met people who believe I have something to offer to the table just because of this internship.

Fun Questions:

Favorite food in D.C.:

Naan & Beyond’s naanwiches

Favorite spot to hang out with friends:

My office since most of my friends in D.C. were my co-workers.

Funniest experience at the White House:

Rap battle between my two co-interns