Political science senior Lindsey Constantino remembers voting for Barack Obama in the 2008 election, the excitement of her first legal vote and the significance of the president’s candidacy.
Four years later and Constantino found herself in the District of Columbia, working as an intern at the White House in the midst of the most publicized presidential election to date.
“I met people from all over the country, all over the world,” she said of the experience. “I love it there — the people, the food — there is just so much happening. It really is like the epitome of the American ‘melting pot.’”
Constantino interned in the Office of Presidential Personnel, which oversees the selection process for presidential appointees as part of the executive branch. The team she worked on dealt with the presidential delegates as well as boards and commissions.
She worked on a team of interns made up of undergraduate and graduate students as well as veterans recently out of the military. Constantino assisted in the appointments of candidates to various boards and commissions, as well as presidential delegations, she said
The unpaid internship had its perks as well, such as the weekly intern meetings with a different speaker from the president’s senior staff, she said. Among the speakers were First Lady Michelle Obama, Chief of Staff Jacob Lew, Press Secretary Jay Carney and Constantino’s favorite speaker, Vice President Joe Biden.
“He is just very honest and genuine, and what you see out there is truly what he actually is,” Constantino said of the vice president. “He has no political skin that he puts on, he is just genuine to who he is.”
Other highlights included a tour of the CIA and the opportunity to watch Marine One (the president’s Helicopter) landing on the South Lawn of the White House. For security reasons, Marine One always flies with two identical helicopters that serve as decoys, shifting in and out of formation throughout flight in order to obscure the exact location of the president, Constantino said.
“It’s really moving to see,” she said. “You’re on the South Lawn looking down on at the Washington Monument and you see these three helicopters fly up, and then two advance and circulate — it’s very strategically set up. Then it’s hurricane winds and the Marines are there, and it’s just really emotional because you see it in movies and to be there is really moving.”
After spending her first two summers in college interning at California sen. Dianne Feinstein’s San Francisco office, and last summer on Congresswoman Lois Capps’ campaign, Constantino said she found the internship simply by going online.
Business administration senior and Constantino’s sorority sister in Kappa Alpha Theta Katie Babcock said she has always been ahead of the curve.
“(Constantino) is like the friend who is always on her game,” she said. “She really is a go-getter, she goes out there and looks for it. A lot of people wait around for the career fair or something but Lindsey kind of knows about things before they happen.”
Constantino, who will be graduating in June, said she could see herself ending up in Washington D.C. and plans on taking the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) which tests candidates on everything from American history and politics in order to be placed as a public affairs diplomat.
With a passion for public service, Constantino said as a diplomat, “you are sent anywhere in the world that the United States has diplomatic relations with in order to represent and promote United States’ interests, in addition to maintaining friendly relations.”
At Cal Poly, Constantino spent a year studying abroad in Italy and also spent time in the Model United Nations program under the director of the political science department Craig Arceneaux.
Arceneaux, who is also her faculty adviser for her senior project — a research paper on Iran’s nuclear program — called Constantino a very motivated and driven student who, unlike many, has taken advantage of the various opportunities that Cal Poly has to offer.
“There seem to be two kinds of students,” he said. “One who simply just works through their coursework and then the other who sees that while they’re here, they have all these opportunities available to them.”