Santa Fe native Alex Wirth, the son of local Democratic state Sen. Peter Wirth, recently scored an internship at the White House. The Harvard junior’s public service experience began at age 18 when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton named him to the US National Commission for UNESCO. SFR caught up with Wirth for a brief chat about his summer job in President Obama’s press office, his future in government and whether he’ll be getting a paycheck for his work.
SFR: So many people your age don’t have faith in the country’s political process. Why do you?
Alex Wirth: Growing up with two parents committed to public service, I saw firsthand government’s ability to make a positive difference in people’s lives. When you see example after example of the political process making a difference, you quickly realize how important it is to be involved.
Will you get to hang with President Obama this summer?
I am interning in the Office of Communications, so while I don’t get to hang with the president, I do get an incredible window into the day-to-day operations of my office. I help the office with a wide range of activities from morning news clips, to policy research, to logistics memos, to helping with visits and meetings at the White House.
Many interns across the country don’t get paid for their work. Will you be getting paid? The White House Internship Program is unpaid, but I do receive a public service stipend from the Harvard Institute of Politics.
Is this the next step in grooming yourself for a future run for office?
Being selected as a White House Intern is an incredible honor and opportunity in what I hope will be a long career of public service. That being said, I’m not actively planning or even thinking about running for office and am focused on the incredible learning experience I currently have.
Will you be lunching at (famed DC barbecue eatery) Ben’s Chili Bowl?
Ben’s Chili Bowl is a little far away to be able to sneak out for lunch during the week, but it’s on my list to get to by the end of the summer.