Law grad interns at White House
Anushree Nakkana (JD 11) was interning at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida when the judicial assistant to the judge sent her an email that changed her life. The email was for the White House internship program.
“In the email she said, ‘you absolutely have to apply for this,’” Nakkana recalls. “She had a lot of faith in me, even when I didn’t know it myself. So I applied and six months later I got an interview.”
Nakkana was born in India and moved with her mother and sister to Detroit at the age of 7. She moved to San Diego at age 12 and Florida at 16, where she now resides in West Palm Beach. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s in anthropology in 2008.
At UF Law, Nakkana was involved in the Law College Council, Gators for Alternative Dispute Resolution and the South Asian Law Society. Upon entering law school, Nakkana intended to pursue international business law but slowly became interested in federal laws. Her interest led her to intern in both district court and bankruptcy court.
Almost immediately after receiving the email for the internship program, Nakkana began the intensive application and interview process.
The first part of the application is an online resume and two essays. Once submitted, a White House employee reviews the resumes and directs them to different channels. A member of a certain branch of the program will then get in touch with the applicants. Nakkana was contacted by theDomestic Policy Council’s justice and regulatory policy channel. Following the process, the internship program lets the students know in one month.
“I kept my fingers crossed and I really hoped I got the internship,” she said. “I just remember my mom telling me ‘you got it, you got it,’ and I said, ‘Mom, this is the White House.’”
Nakkana found out she got her internship in late November. She moved in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 1, 2012, and began the internship on Jan. 3. She worked in a variety of areas of the law including civil rights, criminal justice, food safety and open government.
“I really enjoyed working in the judiciary and then the executive branch at the White House,” Nakkana said. “I worked on a lot of interesting, intellectually challenging issues in the legal world. Rather than one particular area of law, I worked on a broad range of issues. It was a lot of fun, every day was a challenge.”
Though the internship is 10 hours a day and unpaid, Nakkana said it had many benefits. She enjoyed the challenges of having to think on her feet and not knowing what each day would bring.
“It’s an incredible experience,” she said. “It’s fun, it’s exciting and you meet tons of people. It’s not just work; it’s making a difference.”
Nakkana encourages students who are ambitious about achieving their goals to apply. She believes students can achieve anything by thinking outside the box and taking untraditional paths like she did. She suggests that students give their all to the tasks they embark on, and that they be team players, self-starters and keep open minds.
“Law school at UF helped me make sure I could do the things I wanted to do,” she said. “If you have an interest area, you can develop it. Not to mention how great the professors are. I still keep in touch with some of mine.”
Nakkana also encourages any students applying to the White House internship program to contact her with any questions they may have. Her email address is email@example.com.
Currently, Nakkana is in the job market and just finished volunteering for the presidential campaign. She hopes to get a federal clerkship in the near future and she is also looking to work in a law firm in government and regulatory affairs.
“I’m open to any and all opportunities,” she said. “I just want to see what presents itself. I’m looking forward to what’s next.”