Rachel Bauer loves politics.
“I have a strange infatuation with government and the law-making process,” said Bauer, a senior political science major from Ogallala, Neb.
She worked as a legislative page as a first-year student, and again as a junior. As a college sophomore, she interned for Nebraska State Senator Danielle Conrad. On campus, she serves on the Student Affairs Senate.
So an attempt to land an internship at the White House wasn’t out of reach.
“CHIP was actually a large reason why I chose Nebraska Wesleyan University,” she said.
Bauer recently wrapped up a four-month internship on the legislative affairs team of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), an internship she gained through NWU’s Capitol Hill Internship Program (CHIP).
Bauer is the third Nebraska Wesleyan University student in three years to intern at the White House. Last spring Ashley Bykerk interned in the Office of Vice President Joe Biden. In 2013, accounting major Hilary Krantz interned in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer.
CHIP provides students with internship experiences in Washington, D.C. while living on Capitol Hill and completing academic courses and seminars.
"The CHIP house being only a mile away from the Capitol building and a 10-minute walk to Union Station makes everything very easy," said Bauer.
A White House internship doesn’t come easy. Bauer completed a basic application, provided a resume and references, and submitted a five-page writing sample and three-page essay. Once these documents were approved, she underwent a phone interview and background check.
Nearly two months passed before Bauer learned she was accepted for a White House internship.
The Council on Environmental Quality plans federal environmental efforts and works with other departments in the White House to create environmental and energy policies and initiatives. The legislative affairs team manages inquiries from Congress regarding the Obama Administration's energy and environmental initiatives, organizes Congressional briefings, and prepares the Chair for Congressional meetings. Bauer helped manage the interactions between CEQ and Congress, and monitored Congressional hearings and pending legislation on energy and environmental issues.
Though her internship required much responsibility and dedication, Bauer remained unfazed, as her CHIP experience was not her first time working in Washington D.C.
"I had interned for Congressman Adrian Smith in his Washington, D.C. office the summer before my junior year,” she said. “After that summer, I was hooked on the D.C. lifestyle. While I had always planned on doing CHIP, my first internship on the Hill made me that much more excited for CHIP."
During her four-month stay in Washington D.C., Bauer also took advantage of many other opportunities available to her. She saw Pope Francis twice during his visits to Independence Hall in Philadelphia and the Capitol, and heard President Obama speak at a Veteran's Day program at Arlington National Cemetery.
Bauer is now wrapping up her senior year on campus with plans to attend law school and study environmental law following her graduation in May.
Story by Quinn Hullett, public relations intern.