Next door to the White House: Interesting way to spend summer

Doug Boock
Colby Hathaway of Galva and his girlfriend, Caitlin Ryan of Kewanee, stand near the White House in Washington, D.C., where Hathaway just completed a summer internship. Hathaway spent three months helping White House efforts by working in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the West Wing.

Colby Hathaway’s too old to have to write a “What I Did This Summer” essay when he returned to school last week.

That’s too bad. He’s got lots he could write about.

Hathaway, 21, completed an internship at the White House complex in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 15. That ended three months of experiences he’ll long remember.

“It was great,” the Galva native said Aug. 21. “Just the experience of being there and walking up to the White House every morning and going through the gate . . . Every morning walking up the Navy steps, which is the entrance of the Eisenhower building . . . There’s so much history there.”

Hathaway was one of about 100 students working through the White House internship program. He worked in the Office of Political Affairs, which is located in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. That building is located next to the White House West Wing and houses a majority of offices for White House staff.

It wasn’t a money-maker for Hathaway. He didn’t get paid a cent for his work – though working many 50- and 60-hour weeks

But that’s okay, Hathaway said. He feels he profited nonetheless.

“I was really lucky to get the opportunity to work with the people I did and to meet the people I did,” said the son of John Hathaway and Dave and Julie Morland, all of Galva. “It was a lot of work but it was definitely worth the hours and the time.”

Hathaway’s main job was to research potential political appointees. He gathered information on them to help higher-ups decide who would be good candidates for positions. He’s not allowed to disclose how he did that.

He also helped gather information to brief White House officials on what was happening in various regions of the country.

About 95 percent of his time was spent in the office. He was in the White House at least once a week, often delivering things to the West Wing. He also gave five or six tours of the East Wing.

“That was interesting – just being in the East Wing and walking around. That was great,” he said.

Hathaway didn’t meet President Bush. But he did see him seven or eight times, mostly as Bush leaving or coming to the White House. He and the other interns also got to have a question-and-answer hour with the President – a special treat, Hathaway said.

“I didn’t get to have any personal contact with him, other than the question-and-answer,” Hathaway explained. “(But) I think him just taking the time to stay and talk with us was more important than getting to shake his hand. It was nice to hear his views on things (directly) and not through the press. It was a candid conversation.”

A senior Political Science major at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Hathaway plans to go to law school.

“From there, I’m not sure. I’ll wait and see where that takes me,” he said.

Regardless, Hathaway – whose aunt, Galva native Anne Hathaway, is Chief of Staff for the Republican National Committee – would like to stay politically active.

“I would like to stay involved in politics, but right now I’m not really sure what aspect it will be,” said Hathaway. “I don’t think I will ever run for office or anything like that, but I would love to work in politics if I have the opportunity.”

This summer’s internship could help him do that. He’s grateful for the opportunity.

“Oh definitely. I was very lucky. Thousands and thousands of people applied and I was one of 100 (selected). It’s definitely one of the most competitive internships in country,” said Hathaway, who said being related to his aunt Anne probably helped him get chosen. “In the long run, it’ll be worth it.”