The 2000 presidential election between Al Gore and George W. Bush may be remembered for “hanging chads” and controversy, but it also had a much quieter impact—it was the political event that motivated Adam Chernicoff ’14 (Harrisburg, Pa.) to learn more about the workings of the U.S. government.
Going from state capital to nation’s capital and College Hill to Capitol Hill is a big leap, but Chernicoff landed a coveted summer internship in the White House’s Office of Scheduling and Advance, which coordinates travel itineraries for President Barack Obama and the White House Press Corps and supports the President at events around the country and world. Chernicoff is involved in all aspects of the office, including responding to invitations to the President, staffing events where the President is appearing, and coordinating logistics for the President’s trips.
Several weeks into his internship, Chernicoff staffed a major speech President Obama delivered June 25 at Georgetown University in which the President laid out his plan to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse emissions and using renewable energy. The end-product may appear glamorous, but planning a Presidential appearance is an intricate job that requires interns to work with multiple White House offices, federal, local, and state agencies, and media outlets.
In addition to learning about the mechanics of how government operates, Chernicoff is absorbing as much as he can from supervisors and senior staffers about their career paths and balancing personal life with demanding jobs in public service. He also is picking up skills that will help as he completes his undergraduate education and prepares for law school and a career in lobbying or government relations.
“I am learning how to prioritize my work better, as well as how to work with many different types of people,” he says. “This will be important when I enter life after college and can easily be applied to academic work next year.”
A double major in history and government & law, Chernicoff credits his classes at Lafayette with nurturing his interest in politics and government. James Lennertz, associate professor emeritus of government and law, wrote a recommendation for his internship application.
When he applied for the White House internship, Chernicoff had already started building an impressive résumé. He interned for former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell in both the communications and scheduling offices; Amy Kelchner, Gov. Rendell’s former communications director, also recommended him for the White House internship. He also interned for Sen. Robert P. Casey, Jr. (PA) in constituent relations and advance. On campus, he is a representative to Student Government and chairs its Student Life committee.