3L Andrew Demirchyan has spent the last few months of his law school career working as a legal intern at the White House. In the Q&A below, he shares details about fulfilling a lifelong dream and, yes, meeting President Obama.
Why did you decide to go to law school? What brought you to UC Hastings?
Prior to law school, I had an established and extensive career in real estate. I found myself very adept at resolving conflicts and managing multiple issues, all within complicated transactions where client service is paramount. I realized that these were important skills that I would like to build on and contribute to my community, on a bit of a “higher level,” focusing on resolving issues outside of real property. This led me to pursue law school.
I came to UC Hastings because I was very impressed with the school’s different clinical programs, commitment to providing pro bono services to the community, and focus on building practical, marketable legal skills while in law school.
How did you end up at the White House and when did you start working there?
I applied to intern at the White House through the White House Internship Program’s website. Ultimately, I was offered an internship in the Spring 2016 cohort to intern in the Office of Presidential Personnel. I started interning here at the beginning of January 2016, arriving right before DC’s historic blizzard this past winter!
What has the internship been like for you? Can you describe a typical day and the types of matters you’ve handled?
Every day of this internship has been truly incredible and fascinating. Interning at the White House was one of the biggest dreams of my life. Given my background as the child of immigrants, I am humbled by this opportunity and truly honored to serve my country, especially in such a decisive time. I still cannot believe that I report here every day, walking through the gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, to work with brilliant individuals who are determined to solve the many issues that we face as a nation.
My typical day starts early. I assist with the vetting of the President’s potential Executive Branch nominees and appointees and conduct legal research and write memoranda. In addition, I was selected to be a co-leader for Intern-Led Programming, where we prepare weekly programming that seeks to engage interns with senior White House staff on a broad range of policy issues.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your internship? The most challenging?
This may sound obvious, but the most rewarding aspect of my internship is knowing that my work contributes in a real way to the betterment of our country and the lives of many individuals, because the individuals appointed by the Office of Presidential Personnel set policy. It is a privilege and honor to work with and learn from senior White House staff on a host of complex issues that come up in our processes.
The most challenging aspect of my internship is that we have so many moving parts and work with different departments. However, the complexity of this process and fast-paced work environment is thrilling for me.
What advice do you have for other UC Hastings students who might be interested in pursuing a legal internship at the White House?
First, apply and do not be overwhelmed by the application process. Make sure that you spend enough time polishing your resume, so your experience and skill set is clearly presented. Make sure that your personal statement is not only a personal narrative that highlights your achievements but also lets your individual personality and characteristics shine. Lastly, make sure you submit letters of recommendation from individuals who know you well and can specifically highlight, through concrete examples, aspects of your personality and skill sets.
Have you met President Obama? If so, what was it like for you to meet him?
Yes, and it was the best moment of my life! I had the opportunity to attend the 2016 Wounded Warrior Ride Kickoff on the South Lawn of the White House. After the event ended, both the President and Vice President came up to speak with and greet attendees. I was able to briefly speak with and shake hands with both of them. I was so impressed with their genuine ability and desire to connect with everyone there.
You’re graduating from UC Hastings this year. What are your post-graduation plans?
I still cannot believe how fast law school went by and that graduation is around the corner! I enjoyed my time at UC Hastings and, as a Los Angeles native, developed a deep appreciation for the Bay Area. After I finish at the White House Internship Program and graduate, I will return to work in a firm in San Francisco.
Demirchyan was able to spend his final semester at the White House through the UCDC Law Program and received 13 units for his experience.