May 16, 2017

5 Things I Learned at the White House

I was fortunate to work in Vice President Joe Biden’s press office from 2015 until earlier this year. Each day in the White House was unique and different, and I was honored to be a small part of the Obama Administration. I learned something new every day, but here are my favorite lessons:

  1. Be confident in your ideas and not afraid to speak up

The Obama Administration was full of immensely smart and talented people who have done incredible things, which can be intimidating for a younger staffer. My colleagues at the White House made sure everyone had a voice so I learned that when you have a good idea, don’t be afraid to speak up, and when you do speak up, make sure you are confident. Working in the White House can be intimidating, but when you are confident in your ideas, your ideas will be heard.

  1. Build relationships

You should never turn down an opportunity to meet someone new, or work to deepen an existing relationship. The White House was full of amazing people – staffers, reporters, custodial workers, military members, etc. – and if you took the time, you could learn something valuable, professionally and personally, from each and every one of them.

  1. It is a fast-paced world, but details matter

No matter how hectic the day is – and every day at the White House could be hectic – always remember that the little details matter. Before hitting send on a press release to reporters, double check your grammar and punctuation. Before sending a tweet, check your spelling. The work may be fast-paced, but it doesn’t hurt to slow down for a minute to check the details.

  1. Be flexible and prepared

While working at the White House your day could be thrown off course fairly easily. If you let these interruptions – no matter how big or small – impact your work and your mindset, you won’t be as successful in getting the job done. It is important to be able to be flexible, and be prepared for anything that may get thrown your way.

  1. Learn from every moment, even the crises

Working at the White House is an incredible experience, but some days were long, hectic and frustrating, and some days just felt like one crisis after another. Looking back, it was the days that felt never ending where I learned the most professionally and personally. It is important in any job to be able to learn and grow from every moment – especially the crisis moments.

Working at the White House is an opportunity that I will (most likely) never have again, but the career and life lessons I learned while working there will last a lifetime.


By Kirsten Lance