My Night in the White House

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Well, I’m speechless. I just returned from the White House State of the Union Social. Now, that may sound like a fun social event put on by an RA at school that includes ice cream and free pizza, and although there was no food at this social, it tops my list for any event I have had the honor to attend.

Over the past few years President Obama’s Office of Digital Strategy have really taken the administration’s public outreach to a whole new level. The team, led by Macon Phillips, has truly grasped social media and new technology to reach multiple facets of the American public all while breaking the barriers between the U.S. government and it’s citizens. The power of social media continues to blow me away, and the White House Social is just one of many examples.

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Tonight, I was one of 100 people selected out of 2,000 applicants to attend the White House Social where we had the opportunity to watch the enhanced version of the State of the Union. The viewing party was then followed by a live Q & A with top policy advisors, which was streamed on WhiteHouse.Gov. My fellow #WHsocial attendees found their passion in everything from LGBT equality to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to immigration reform, hailing from all over the country. It was absolutely incredible to see people eager to get their voice heard and advocate for their beliefs.

The atmosphere in the South Court Auditorium, where the viewing was held, was truly one of a kind. There was this sense of eagerness, excitement, nervousness, and just overall thrill for opportunity to attend such an event. Throughout President Obama’s address there were cheering, clapping, whoops and hollering- even some softer “snaps” of approval too! As for me, I was rooting for every issue that affects students. Doesn’t matter if its Pre-K, K-12, or higher education, it was absolutely incredible to hear President Obama address these issues. (I had my fair share of claps and snaps- no hollering- just not my thing.)

ImageFor those of you that may not know, social media has provided some incredible opportunities for me over the past few months, and I am still in disbelief about it all. I am currently interning in the Office of Communication and Outreach for the U.S. Department of Education – thanks to one lucky tweet. This past Fall I tweeted @USEdGov that I was an undergrad interested in getting involved with the Dept of Ed’s efforts, and from there the rest is history. After a cup of coffee with my now boss, Director of Digital Strategy (aka social media- perfect fit!), and some extremely helpful and supportive Marist faculty, friends and family, I was off to Washington D.C.

So word of advice- Do not underestimate the power of social media, it could help you land the internship of your dreams or even get you to the White House.

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Check out a compilation of my favorite posts from the White House Social: @KelsDonohue Storify

Also, feel free to follow me @KelsDonohue

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