Third-​​year North­eastern law stu­dent Phil Han­cock, 29, was recently accepted into the pres­ti­gious White House intern­ship program—his third North­eastern expe­ri­en­tial oppor­tu­nity and another step closer to a career in public-​​interest law.

Begin­ning in Sep­tember, Han­cock will spend three months in the Office of Inter­gov­ern­mental Affairs and Public Engage­ment, which coor­di­nates with state and local offi­cials to ensure that the needs of the country’s cit­i­zens are met. “This will be a great oppor­tu­nity for me to learn the needs of the states and how they cor­re­spond to national needs,” Han­cock said.

Simply put, he wants to be someone whom the public can depend on to get things done. “I would like to be one of these people who, when people say, “They ought to do some­thing about that,’ they come find me,” he said.

That aspi­ra­tion crys­tal­lized years ago in words he will never forget—those of an 18-​​year-​​old West Vir­ginian town mayor. “Have you ever driven down the street and come to a bump in the road and said to your­self, ‘You know, they need to do some­thing about that,’” Han­cock recalled the young mayor saying. “Or have you ever seen a dilap­i­dated house and said, ‘I wish they’d fix that.’ I always wanted to be the ‘they.’”

Han­cock has had two pre­vious intern­ships as part of his North­eastern School of Law curriculum—first at the Mass­a­chu­setts Depart­ment of Rev­enue in the lit­i­ga­tion bureau, and then at Raytheon in the tax department.

He pointed to the North­eastern law school’s “non­tra­di­tional cur­riculum” as one of the main rea­sons he chose to attend the uni­ver­sity. “One of the most attrac­tive fea­tures of Northeastern’s law pro­gram is being able to go out and actu­ally work as an attorney in training, and learn how to do legal research, legal writing and legal com­mu­ni­ca­tion while still in school,” he said. “These are all trans­fer­able skills that will help in my posi­tion at the White House.”

Hancock’s pur­suit of a career in public ser­vice began almost a decade ago when he ran for a seat in West Virginia’s House of Del­e­gates. He lost that elec­tion, but con­tinued toward his goal through efforts including becoming one of Demo­c­ratic pres­i­den­tial nom­inee John Kerry’s elec­tors in the state’s elec­toral college.

The Blue­field, West Vir­ginia, native counts Pres­i­dent Barack Obama as one of his polit­ical heroes (“He has ener­gized the young people of this country to be involved civi­cally and in the issues of the day,” is how he put it), and dreams of helping the pres­i­dent shape health-​​care reform during his three-​​month stint in the White House.

The way Han­cock sees it, people should never be made to suffer: “So many people don’t have health care in this country, and we end up paying for it regard­less,” he said, “so why not let people go to the doctor for pre­ven­tive care?” He con­tinued, “We pay for it on the front end and save people’s lives, or we pay for it on the back end and so many people suffer.”