For Chelsie Ouel­lette, working at the White House was a life-​​altering expe­ri­ence, a glimpse at the heights a polit­ical com­mu­ni­ca­tions career could take her in the future.

Ouel­lette, a com­mu­ni­ca­tion studies major, worked in the Office of Media Affairs from early Jan­uary through May, han­dling dozens of media inquiries daily from out­lets nation­wide and directing them to the appro­priate con­tacts. Working along­side a bustling com­mu­ni­ca­tions team, she also pitched op-​​eds and satel­lite TV inter­views with Obama admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials to the media as part of a col­lab­o­ra­tive effort to get Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s mes­sage out to the public.

The expe­ri­en­tial learning oppor­tu­nity also put her front and center in the nation’s cap­ital during the fiery debate over and ulti­mate pas­sage of the land­mark health-​​care bill. Given the legislation’s sig­nif­i­cance, Ouel­lette quickly grasped how much every news story mat­tered to the bill’s suc­cess or failure, and the energy her col­leagues brought to the effort inspired her to do the same.

You work really hard because this is the ulti­mate place to work for our field of polit­ical com­mu­ni­ca­tion,” said Ouel­lette, who begins her senior year in the fall. “It doesn’t get any better than that. I had a remark­able experience.”

The White House pro­gram also included a com­mu­nity ser­vice com­po­nent. Ouellette’s work involved inter­acting with Dis­trict of Columbia-​​area high school stu­dents on their own school ser­vice projects. Con­necting with and moti­vating the stu­dents was hard work, but her role as a ser­vice project leader ulti­mately afforded her the oppor­tu­nity to meet Pres­i­dent Obama in person.

It was during her first co-​​op in Mass­a­chu­setts Gov. Deval Patrick’s press office that Ouel­lette ini­tially devel­oped a pas­sion for polit­ical com­mu­ni­ca­tions, explaining that she saw first-​​hand how extra­or­di­nary efforts to develop policy can bring about change. Now Ouel­lette is working in the governor’s reelec­tion cam­paign, as a sched­uling and oper­a­tions coordinator.

While her new role allows her to step away from the relent­less 24-​​hour news cycle, Ouel­lette said she hopes to remain in polit­ical com­mu­ni­ca­tions after she grad­u­ates next May.

It’s very rewarding when you’re rep­re­senting some­thing you believe in,” she said.