Open for Questions: White House Fellows

Open for Questions: White House Fellows


Kasie Coccaro:
Hi, and welcome to the White
House open for questions live chat with the White
House fellows program. Today, I’m joined
by Cindy Moelis. Cindy, why don’t you introduce
yourself and the fellows. Cindy Moelis:
Thank you, Kasie. Thanks for hosting us today. My name is Cindy Moelis. I’m the director of the
White House fellows program. I’m here with two former
fellows joining us to answer your questions. Anish Mahajan and
Erica Jeffries. Thank you for joining us today. Anish was part of the
class of 2009-2010. He is currently assistant
professor in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Erica Jeffries just completed
her White House fellow’s year in 2010-2011, and she is currently
the director in the office of the chief financial
officer at the EPA. So thanks a lot for
coming and joining us. Kasie Coccaro:
Yeah, and thanks, Cindy. So today we’ll be taking
questions live from both our White House Facebook account and
our White House Twitter account. Please submit your
questions at any time using the hash tag #whfellows. Cindy, before we start, why
don’t you tell us a little bit about the program. Cindy Moelis:
Okay. Well, I am confident that many
people watching today have possibly visited
our website already. But I encourage you to
do so, if you haven’t. I also encourage you to
talk to people who have gone through the program. The reason Anish and Erica are
with us today is because they are really the best people to
answer your questions about how much you can get
out of the program. But I will give
a brief overview. The program was founded in 1964
by President Johnson and John Gardner, who at the time
was the President of the Carnegie Corporation. Its mission was really to
encourage highly motivated and talented young emerging leaders
from all different fields to consider coming to Washington,
being placed at a high level in government and getting
hands-on experience. The fellowship is
further developed, besides the work placement,
into an opportunity to meet with private and public leaders from
all over Washington and all over the country in small
round table gatherings. The fellows also have an
opportunity to meet with the President, the Vice
President, the First Lady, as well as many journalists,
CEO executives, many others, that can teach us a lot about
public service leadership. In addition, we get several
opportunities through the year to be able to travel and see
federal policy in action. It’s a highly
competitive program. Each year, only 11 to
19 people are chosen. And that was designed
by President Johnson. It’s a nonpartisan program. It has been supported by
the last nine Presidents. And President Obama has embraced
the program and has been extremely supportive,
has met with every class, and has asked his cabinet
members to support the program, as well. I can mention that the
fellowship, I believe, benefits both each individual
that participates as well as the government, because we’re
bringing in talented people, like Anish and Erica,
who contribute to where they’re placed. One goal of the program is
really to educate future leaders so they can go back into their
community with a new tool, the understanding of
federal government, some of the challenges that are
involved in federal government. I’ll also mention that we have
some prestigious alumni that I’m sure many of you can recognize. General Colin Powell has
been through the program. Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Secretary Henry Cisneros. Author historian,
Doris Kearns Goodwin. CNN President Cesar Conde,
as well as General Wes Clark, and Secretary Elaine Chow. Governor Sam Brownback is
also an alumni of the program. And we’re very proud of all
of those people who have come through the program and in
the future have gone on to contribute in very
important ways. So we welcome you to learn
more about the program. And we encourage you to apply
and we’d love to see you in D.C. next year. So we’re going to answer
some more of your questions. Kasie Coccaro:
And if you have any further
questions about the internship program, you can always log on
to www.WhiteHouse.govFellows. So why don’t we start with a
question from our Facebook page. This is from Fay Pappas,
and he wants to know, how do you apply to become
a White House fellow? And I think you can
answer that best, Cindy. Cindy Moelis:
Okay. So the application
process, as I’ve mentioned, is quite competitive. You go online. It is self-driven. So if you feel that you would
make a good White House fellow, you go online, you look
at the application. I encourage you really
to review it carefully. It tries to be very thoughtful. It’s very time-consuming, as
both Anish and Erica will tell you in terms of
their experience. We also — you also
need three recommenders, and we encourage you
to get recommenders from diverse places. Once you’ve applied, you go
into a three-tier process. Would you like me to
describe the process, would that be helpful? Kasie Coccaro:
Just a little bit, yeah. Cindy Moelis:
So depending on the
number of applications, every application is read
two or three times by staff and former fellows. It’s read for — to see if
you have a high score in five criteria areas. I’ll go through
that in a minute. But just to talk about
the three-tier process, after your application is
read by several readers, if you’re in the top
100 to 120 candidates, you’ll be asked and invited
to a regional panel. We ask civic leaders from around
the country to participate in these regional panels. They volunteer to participate. You will then be
assigned to a region, hopefully close to your
home town or where you are currently living. Because it is at your own
expense that you have to get to the regional panel. The panels take place
in March and April. It’s a day of interviews
and an evening together. And you get to meet 12 civic
leaders from that community. If you score high within your
panel and are sent to D.C., you are among 30 of the finalists. If you’re part of
the 30 finalists, you will come to D.C. in June
and you will meet with the President’s commission
on White House fellows. The commissioners were
appointed by President Obama. They’re 26 national leaders,
people like Tom Brokaw, Senator Dashiell, Helene Gell,
and I can mention all of them. They all are well-known names
and incredibly inspiring leaders in their own field. And I think Erica and Anish will
both agree that that’s — it’s both exhilarating but
intimidating process. Do you remember going
through the process? Anish Mahajan:
Absolutely. Erica Jeffries:
Never forget it. (laughter) Cindy Moelis:
And I think everyone who has
gone through it has really encouraged others
to go through it. Because even the process
itself pushes you to reflect. It really pushes you to know
where you’re going in your career and what
you’d like to do. So those — that’s the
three-tier process. I don’t think I forgot anything. Did I forget anything in
terms of what you guys had to go through? Anish Mahajan:
There’s a lot of subtext. But that was good. Erica Jeffries:
Okay. Anish Mahajan:
Yeah. Cindy Moelis:
Then I’m just going to
mention the five criteria. And I’m going to read them,
because I think that everybody should understand what people
are — how they’re reviewing your application. And these are criteria
that came about in President Johnson’s times. A record of remarkable
professional achievement early in one’s career. Evidence of leadership
skills and the potential for further growth. A demonstrated commitment
to public service. The skills to succeed
at the highest level of the federal government. And the ability to work
effectively as part of a team. Because part of the fellowship
really is working with the other people who have been
chosen as fellows, a very important part of
the fellowship is that. Kasie Coccaro:
Okay. Great. Well let’s take our
second question, which is going to
come from Twitter. And at any time, please
submit your questions via Twitter at #whfellows. This question comes
from the Harris Walker, and he’s asking — and this
question has come up a couple of times — is the White House
fellowship program for more seasoned professionals? What kind of are you
looking for in a candidate? Cindy Moelis:
Do you guys want to talk
a little bit about your classes and the range of
experiences that people had? Is that something you
are comfortable with? Erica Jeffries:
Sure. So my class, the
ages ranged from 29 to 42. And as you will see on the
website, it does say, I think, that the White House
fellows program looks for seasoned professionals. And we haven’t quite
figured out what that means, but I think it means that we
have each had some success within our own fields. My class had four very
accomplished doctors. We had four active duty
military personnel. We had several — a couple of
professors who were all very accomplished and published. So in each, I think, class, and
especially within my own class, as I can speak to my class best,
certainly each member of the class had achieved success
in their own field and had experience at all
different ages. So I think it was a
pretty wide range of ages. I don’t know about your class. Anish Mahajan:
Yeah. I think our experience
was very similar to that. We had a broad range
of disciplines and professions represented. And I think one of the most
distinguishing features of a program like this is that you’re
thrown together with highly accomplished people from
a variety of professions and disciplines. And that makes for something
very exciting when everybody’s goal is to try and understand
how they can contribute to public service and
government service. Kasie Coccaro:
Great. And there was a follow-up
question just posted on Twitter from Mark Harris. And he wants to know basically,
Bachelor’s? Master’s? What kind of degrees and what
kind of past experience are you guys looking for? Cindy Moelis:
So a Bachelor’s is required, but
that is only what’s required. Quite often, you’ll see that
people are professionals. We do have doctors and
lawyers in the group. But also many people
without an advanced degree. I would say it’s really about
putting together an application that shows why you are an
emerging leader in your field. It’s not really the
degree that matters. It’s actually the
experience and what you’ve done with your degree. So would you say that — Erica Jeffries:
Absolutely. Kasie Coccaro:
Okay. Great. Next question is going to
come from Twitter, as well. And it’s by Lauren Kuseni. And she asks, if selected, how
do I get my work placement? Cindy Moelis:
So that is — first of all, I
should say that no one should start coming to this program
because they want to work in a specific place. I think that’s a
very big mistake. If you would like to work in
the Department of Education, you should apply; you
should go for that job. I encourage you to come
into federal government. But the fellowship itself is
really an opportunity to explore and expand your horizons. So what we encourage and we tell
everyone is that you cannot have that expectation coming
into the program. What you can have is an
expectation that the placement that you do get will be
a good match even if it doesn’t seem as consistent. I should mention
that Erica Jeffries, who came in as a business
person, ended up at the EPA, learning a lot. I’m going to ask you to talk a
little bit about your placement in a minute. And Anish, who is a doctor,
was placed at the Office of Management and Budget. And I think they both had
tremendously wonderful experiences, at least the
people who worked with them felt that way. The placement does happen
in July after you’re chosen. You’re invited back to D.C.,
and the office is in charge of putting together an
interview schedule. We base it on some of your
interests and we also base it on the departments and the
White House agencies that are interested in meeting with you. Most fellows consistently have
gotten seven or more interviews during their time. Some are surprises and
some are consistent with their professions. And I would say about half of
the fellows are placed in a department that is consistent
with their profession, and probably half are placed in
some place that really stretches their boundaries. So would you like
to talk a little bit about your placements? Erica Jeffries:
Sure. So Cindy, you
are correct, obviously. I did come from
the business world. I was in the consulting world. But specifically, I was
in the defense and national security realm. So going to the Environmental
Protection Agency was a huge leap of faith, really. And I always say they took a
risk on me just as much as I took a risk on them. It was an opportunity, I
felt, to spend a year really broadening myself and expanding
my portfolio and having new experiences and new
opportunities to learn things that I had never
been exposed to before. And it really was
a great choice. I am — I would not — I
would definitely do it again. I don’t regret it in any way. I have had an amazing
experience at the EPA. And because of it,
I’ve actually, now, am expanding my portfolio
into the environmental realm a little bit. So it not only gave
me new experiences, but a great education and
really transformed what I’m most interested in. So — Anish Mahajan:
Yeah, I would say that my
experience was very similar. As a physician and a
health policy expert, I thought that I would most
likely end up at a place like the Department of Health and
Human Services or the Department of Veterans Affairs, and I would
have been thrilled to do that. But it turned out that I ended
up at the Office of Management and Budget and I think that made
for the most unique and probably the best experience I could
have had for the year. And the reason really is that
when I was hired to work at OMB, they certainly take care of
the entire federal budget, and health reform
is about to happen. And their feeling was that
having someone like me there, who understood sort of health
care policy but also had taken care of patients, would
be really useful for them, because they’re dealing with
so many significant budgetary issues around health care. And so it turned out that my
experience at OMB was one of being a sort of health policy
clinician with experience and it enabled me to sort of help OMB
work with the other departments like HHS and Veteran Affairs
and making policy and budget decisions that made
the most sense. Cindy Moelis:
And I think you both have
mentioned that in your future, in the last couple of years,
that you’ve left, Anish, you’ve actually taken what
you’ve learned and applied it in California now. You’ve gone back. Anish Mahajan:
Absolutely. So, you know, the people at
HHS that work at the federal government, I sort of know
who they are, they know me. We came from the
same sort of cloth. But since I spent
the year at OMB, I learned a great
deal about regulation. I learned a great
deal about budgets. And things that people
in my profession are not necessarily exposed to. And so that has given me an
enormous sort of insight, a unique insight, that’s helped
me sort of try and do very new things in California. Kasie Coccaro:
Okay. Great. A fun question came in from
our forum before we went live. And this question is, do
you still keep in touch with your classmates? I think both could answer that. Erica Jeffries:
Absolutely. I think literally I have 12
new best friends and I’m not just saying that. We have a Google group
that we set up now, and we send emails all the time. A friend of mine, or a classmate
of mine, is in town this week. We had dinner, you know, we have
lunches for those that are still in the area. So definitely. And I know that I’m going to
stay in touch with them for the rest of our lives. So, and that’s really the best
part about the fellowship is the friendships that you make and
that you’ll have for a lifetime. Anish Mahajan:
So, yeah, absolutely. The year is a really
intense year and so, so far, we’ve been talking about our
individual work placements. But a big part of the fellowship
is the time you spend with the other fellows. And so that includes
things like travel, meeting with very sort of
significant leaders from both inside and outside
of government together. And so, you know, inevitably
it’s a really exciting and intense way to get
to know people. And at the end of it, you
know, they almost become like your family. Erica Jeffries:
They do, absolutely. Anish Mahajan:
So we have these links. And I’m about a little more than
a year out and I’ve been in town for a couple of days, and six
or seven of us are still here in Washington and we had dinner
and we were comparing notes, and always in touch
electronically, but even when we have a
chance to get together physically, we do. Cindy Moelis:
And I would say that’s also true
of the 650 other alumni who are not here right now. I think every year there’s
a big annual conference. I think the alumni association
works very hard in keeping people connected. And it’s a wonderful network
even outside of your own class. Kasie Coccaro:
That’s wonderful. Tyler Voss, via
Twitter, has a question. He wants to know how you two
prepared for your interviews. Were you nervous, what did you
do, to kind of prep yourself? Erica Jeffries:
Well, you looked at me
so I guess I’ll answer. Anish Mahajan:
You first. Erica Jeffries:
I will say, well, I’ll say,
I did different preparation for the different
interview processes. So for the regional finals,
I was very focused on current events, you know, studying all
I could about Congress and the structure of state and local
government and then the structure of federal government
and the agencies and the secretaries and I did probably
— I’m probably not the best person to ask, because I just
inundated myself with as much as I could about
federal government, the people who are in the
government and current policy that — major policy that
was ongoing at that time. In hindsight, I think a better
way to prepare would have been really to focus on myself,
because what I learned through the application process, and
very much so in the national’s process, was to know myself,
because that’s what the regional panelists want to know. And that’s what the
commissioners want to know. Who are you and why should
you be a White House fellow? So I think that’s the best way
to prepare is to really think about why you want to
be a White House fellow, what you have done in your
career that sets you apart, what you have done in your
life, what’s your story. And much of the application
sort of asks those questions. So being very familiar
with your application, being very familiar with your
own personal goals and your own personal desires and being very
in touch and very honest with your own challenges, I think
that’s the best way to prepare. Because they want to see who you
are and whether or not you would be a good fit for the program. Anish Mahajan:
The other thing that applicants
can do and I think it’s very important is that you should
speak with previous fellows. And previous fellows are very
happy and open to talking with potential applicants about
the application process. I agree with everything Erica
said and to some extent it is also very useful to get examples
of how these things play out. And you can do that
from previous fellows. The only thing I would add to
what Erica said is you want to know and be able to articulate
what really is your passion and how that passion connects
to public service. And I think that, you know,
certainly there is some amount of preparation related to
current events but if you’re already applying for this and
you feel like you’re good enough to apply, you probably already
know all the current events that you need to know. Kasie Coccaro:
Okay, great. Erica Jeffries:
The only thing I would
add to that, too, is kind of what Anish already
said which was to practice. I think it really — you think
you have an answer down in your head but until you are sitting
across from someone and actually saying it out loud, I think it
makes a huge difference so I did do several mock interviews with
former fellows and just with friends who listened to
me and answered questions. So that’s another thing
that I would try to do also. Cindy Moelis:
I would add, I would
emphasize be true to yourself, know yourself, which is
what both of you said, but I also don’t want to
discount Erica and Anish both came in with a high
degree of knowledge. I’m sure they were reading
the newspaper every day. It’s important even if it’s — Erica Jeffries:
It is. Cindy Moelis:
— not what ultimately
will convince the judges, it’s kind of an assumption
and if you can’t get to that assumption they won’t get to
the next level, so, please, I encourage you, you know,
be well read, you know, make sure you do
know current events. These are very impressive people
that you’ll be meeting with on the other side and they want
to be equally impressed by you. Anish Mahajan:
I think one of my most striking
experiences related to that was that a lot of the questions were
about how I thought about things outside my area of expertise,
so being able to speak intelligently about,
for me, you know, I was asked questions about the
judiciary and I don’t spend much time thinking about the
judiciary in my job. And I wasn’t certainly expected
to know sort of the ins and outs of how Supreme Court justices
are selected but I was expected to have an opinion and be
able to defend my opinion. And so to the extent that you
do prepare about knowing about current events, you do want to
think about sort of what your positions are on big issues
the country is facing. Kasie Coccaro:
Okay, great. So I have a follow-up question. And a lot of people want to know
what you asked — what was your policy recommendation
to the President. Do you remember? Anish Mahajan:
Yes, and so I was coming in to
the fellowship or I was applying to the fellowship before health
reform passed but there was a great deal of excitement. President Obama had been in
office for six months and had made it a priority that
we were going to try and pass health reform. So my memo was about one aspect
of the health care system that I thought was going to be
left out of health reform. And so I tried to write a memo
describing what I thought the federal government should
do on that particular issue. Kasie Coccaro:
Do you remember yours? Erica Jeffries:
My memo was actually, I had just
completed a study for a client about the threat to
national security for — coming from water scarcity. So I kind of wrote my memo as a
recommendation to the President that he should spend more time
focusing on the threat that could be posed by water scarcity
or agricultural scarcity in various parts of the world and
how that could be a threat to our national security. Cindy Moelis:
We actually have a fellow this
year who’s memo has been brought up to his placement and he
is trying to actually get it implemented and they
are supporting that. So that’s been interesting. Erica Jeffries:
That’s exciting. Anish Mahajan:
Yeah. Kasie Coccaro:
So I think I’m actually going
to take the next question. It came in from Steel Magnolia
and she asks: Where can I find the links with all the
information on the White House Fellows Program? Magnolia, you can find it at
www.WhiteHouse.gov/About/Fellows. Next question, I think,
you’ve touched on it a bit, but what was your motivation for
applying and what did you get out, what experiences stick
out the most in your mind? Anish Mahajan:
Why don’t you take
this one first? Erica Jeffries:
Okay. I think there were several
things that motivated me and first was really a desire to
be in a role that allowed me to contribute to public service. I have always had
a passion for it. I am former military. And I wanted an opportunity to
not only be a part of public service but to do it in a very
unique and very special way, really, which the White
House fellows program allows, to see federal policy and
decision making at the highest levels of government is an
outstanding opportunity. And I thought this is my chance. So that was the primary
reason I applied. Secondly, I had really come to a
place in my career where I felt that I needed a change, and
because of that I wanted to challenge myself in a new way. And I thought this
was an opportunity, I had learned about the program
many years ago when I was actually in college from a
former professor who was a White House fellow and I thought, wow! This is a great program. I want to apply. And I actually thought about
applying about seven years before I did and I called that
same professor and he said no I don’t think you’re ready. And I was, like,
really, I’m not ready? But I waited and I took some
time and I had more work experiences and contributed to
my community in other ways and I thought now is the time. And I called that professor
again in the beginning of 2010 and he said, yeah, I think
it’s a good time to apply and so I did. And I think it was one of
the best decisions I’ve made. Anish Mahajan:
For me the motivation really
was to try and understand how federal policy is made and
how to optimize the connection between federal government
action on health care and other social issues with
sort of local policies, so city and county and state. For me it was, you know,
working in health care and health care policy. I had realized that so much
of what we did in California, in Southern California, depended
on how the federal government interacted with us. And so that was one of my
primary motivations was to try and get here and understand how
that link works and to try and see if I could learn lessons
and bring it back to where I live and work. Secondly, I really wanted to
get out of my comfort zone. I had felt like I had spent many
years studying health care and health care systems and trying
to make change at the local level but I felt a gap in
sort of my leadership in public service training. I felt like I wanted to spend
some time with people who had sort of done enormously
interesting and exciting things at the federal level and in
government and the White House fellows program, from when I was
probably in your shoes reading the website and talking
with people about it, seemed like a really
great way to do that. Kasie Coccaro:
Okay. Our next question is
going to come from twitter from QChasen13. And he wants to know:
What is the typical age, which we have kind
of touched on, but also the experience
breakdown of White House fellows? That would be on you two. What is your class as a whole? Cindy Moelis:
Well, let me just
mention the age issue, because when the program
first began that was actually, part of the criteria
was an age criteria. It was 25 to 35. And again the goal was emerging
leaders in their field. In the ’70s that age
criteria was taken away. There was no longer any
mention of age and there is no, you know, specific
set age group. I would encourage you to think
about whether you are already a leader, because quite
often, later in life, you actually become a
leader in your field. This is a program that really
is an extra tool in your toolbox and you actually have to move
to D.C., you become a federal employee; you give up all the
other pieces of your life for that year. You cannot stay on boards,
you can’t extra income. There are very specific
rules for federal employees. So you have to figure out if
it’s a moment in your life where this particular program would
really add a level of knowledge and, you know, all the things
that you have heard about to what you’re trying to achieve. And you will go out and
be a better leader for it. So that’s towards the age issue. You are going to fund a range
— and Erica and Anish can talk about their own class — but
you will find a range of people, you know, if you’re 28 you’re
going to have different experiences than if you’re 42. And so really a wonderful part
of the fellowship as both Anish and Erica have mentioned is that
you share those experiences and you become part of this group of
diverse professions who support each other in their wish to
improve our nation and to continue to do public service,
whatever their future jobs are. Anish Mahajan:
Yeah, I would say that it’s hard
to generalize about, you know, what your experience needs
to be in terms of, you know, your qualification
for the program. What I found in my class and
in other fellows I have met, from other classes, is that
people have done really incredible things
in their career. The physicians that I know I
can certainly understand their experience a lot better because
I’m a physician and, you know, to a person I find that they
have done very eclectic things but done them with a lot of
distinction and done really great things. And I think for other members of
my class from other professions, you know, I sit in awe. A lot of times hearing
about, as I heard, as I got to know them more over
the year about things that they have accomplished. So it’s hard to generalize,
but I think you, yourself, would know to what extent that
you feel that you have had experiences that have made you
into a leader or put you on a path of leadership. And I think if you have gotten
that and you think that’s the case then you should
definitely apply. Erica Jeffries:
I think the only thing
I would add to that, I totally agree with what both
Cindy and Anish have said, I think to continue
what Anish said, was looking at someone’s
bio you think, okay, I know this person is a
physician or they’re a lawyer or whatever the case may be,
but over the course of the year, getting to know your classmates
and all the prior classes are the same, I’m sure, you just
find that they’ve had such incredible experiences. Whether somebody spent time in
South Africa or somebody was giving vaccines in Thailand
or whether they were building houses in Delhi or whatever
the case may be, I mean, everyone has had such unique
experiences that are outside of their profession. So while they may be very
accomplished professionally, and they are, they also have a
sort of well roundedness that allows them to — that you learn
about their community service, their public engagement, their
international engagement that just really sets
these people apart. I was very privileged, I felt,
to be a member of my class because my classmates were just
absolutely outstanding people aside from their professions. Kasie Coccaro:
Okay, great. So I think I want to
ask the next question. I’m interested in
what a typical day, as typical as we can get
in the life of both you as White House fellows. Is that a hard one? Anish Mahajan:
No, not at all. A typical day. It starts early and you are
expecting to spend a lot of hours at your work placement. So, for me, I spent a
lot of hours at the EEOB; the Eisenhower Executive Office
Building at the OMB offices. It meant attending meetings. It meant sort of depending on
what the issue of the day was, what the office was focused on. You know, participating
in meetings, interacting with other agencies. And then a lot of times it meant
stepping away from the office in the middle of the day for
an hour or two to join my colleagues, my White House
fellow colleagues at the White House fellow’s office and with
Cindy and meet with a speaker. And Cindy referred to this in
the beginning but speakers are anybody from the First Lady or
the President to a secretary head and to have an
off-the-record conversation with the speaker about
leadership and about just about anything we
wanted to talk about. And then it would be going back
to the office at OMB and getting back to work. And in the evening hopefully
a drink with your colleagues. Erica Jeffries:
I think my day was
pretty similar to that. I think you know, at EPA
we start pretty early. There are lots of meetings. We do a lot of interagency work
so whether I would have to go to another department for a meeting
or whatever the case may be, but the best part really — I
don’t know if your class did it the same way our class did —
but twice a week we, most weeks, twice a week, we would
have a one-hour lunch with, as Anish mentioned,
some very interesting, accomplished person where we
could just ask whatever we wanted to ask. So I would say pretty
similar experience. I mean, it’s certainly
the issue of the day, whatever the day brings,
because you never know. I did get to do a little
bit of traveling with EPA. But it totally depends. Anish Mahajan:
And we should also
mention — oh, go ahead. Cindy Moelis:
No, no. Anish Mahajan:
We should also mention that a
big part of the experience is traveling with the White House
fellow’s colleagues and so you make policy trips to,
domestic policy trips and one international trip which
are usually focused around a particular set of policy
issues that the fellows sort of collectively decide upon. But that is also a very big
part of the experience and you actually leave Washington as a
group and you get to meet with local leaders at the location
that you’re going to to really try and get into the
questions of policy as they occur on the ground. Cindy Moelis:
You know, I should also — I
want to add to that and say that everyone is in a different
agency or a different department or one of the offices in the
White House and many people are having different experiences. You know, a typical day is
hard to describe, I’m sure, if you had talk to some people
in the class they would have described possibly a little bit
more travel or possibly being on one issue versus ten issues. I think everybody has a
slightly different experience, but the wonderful thing about
the fellowship is that everyone comes together at the happy hour
or at a lunch and is able to share those experiences. And both, the challenges of the
experiences as well as the high points, so this year’s class has
made a decision every time they get together for a business
meeting which we do once a month to do a high and a low. To share what’s really been a
wonderful experience and what’s been a challenge. And allow their
classmates to, you know; sort of help them reflect on it. Kasie Coccaro:
Okay. So we’re winding down and
I want to leave everybody with a piece of advice. So what is your one piece of
advice for everybody tuning in that is interested and may
apply to the White House fellows program soon? Do you want to start? Anish Mahajan:
Okay. Erica Jeffries:
I’m glad you asked him to start. (laughter) Anish Mahajan:
I guess my advice
would be, you know, talk to lots of
previous fellows. Talk to other people
that have applied. They’re the best resource to you
in terms of trying to understand how to put the
application together, whether you think you’re
qualified for the program and whether the program
is right for you. Generally speaking, I tell
people that you absolutely have to consider the program if you
are at all interested and then figure out if it’s the right
fit for you and go forward. Erica Jeffries:
I think that’s great advice. I think the only thing I would
add to that would be to really take the time to be honest
in your application. That application is very
comprehensive and it’s an opportunity that I thought was
extraordinary because how often do you get to sit down and
really think about what you are passionate about. So I took a long time
with my application. So don’t wait to
the last minute, because it takes time to really
reflect on the questions that are posed in the application. And in would just say allow
yourself enough time to really give very solid answers and
search yourself because what you think might be your passion may
not be when you really dig into what you care about and
what you’ve learned over your life’s experiences. So I thinking that would be it. Cindy Moelis:
I’m going to encourage
people to learn more; to not be intimidated. I mean, you know, sometimes you
look at résumés and you say I don’t fit into that category. And I can tell you honestly that
there is such diversity in what a public service
leader looks like. You know, if you’re somebody who
is a leader in the arts but yet for the last two years, you
haven’t seen anybody in the arts, don’t be intimidated. I encourage you, please apply. You’ll get a lot out of it. As long as, as Erica says,
you’re honest with yourself about what your motivation
is, what your passion is, what you expect to get
out of the program, this is really both a gift to
the fellows from the taxpayers, but it’s also a gift to the
federal government to have diverse talented
people come here, be interested in how
federal government works, and then go out and share
that with other people. So my advice is, please, look
at the website if you think that there is any interest and
there is a good match, apply. Even the process that I have
heard from people who only possibly get to the regionals,
or get to the finals but don’t get chosen, they meet an
incredible group of colleagues with the same passion
and the same interests. And the process itself has
helped people really understand their goals better. So I’m just going to encourage
you to apply if you even think that there is a chance
that this is a good fit. Kasie Coccaro:
And when is the
application deadline? Cindy Moelis:
So the application
has gone live. It was November 1st
that it went live. The deadline is January 13th at
close of business which is 5:59 Eastern Standard. So I just want everybody
to understand that. I ask you not to wait until the
last minute but I know quite often that’s the case. But understand that there
are no exceptions made. So I apologize in advance. And I hope we get to
see you in D.C. soon. Kasie Coccaro:
Yeah. So if you have any more
questions you can always go to www.WhiteHouse.gov/About/Fellows. And do you have any
closing words for us? Cindy Moelis:
I just want to thank Anish and
Erica for joining us and thank you for hosting this. This is really a
wonderful opportunity. Kasie Coccaro:
You’re welcome.
Any parting words? Anish Mahajan:
Thank you. No. Apply! Apply! That’s my parting words. Kasie Coccaro:
Thank you all for joining in and
please catch us next time on the “White House Open
for Questions!”

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