After spending two years in Washington, D.C., Will Rusche ’13 returned to the Hill that is Hamilton College to discuss his experience as a researcher at the White House in the Office of Communications. In addition to leading an information session discussing his communications work, he also met with students over lunch and engaged with government classes on Oct. 25 and 26.
During his time at Hamilton, Rusche was president of the College Democrats and spent a semester in the Washington, D.C., off-campus study program. After graduating from Hamilton with honors in government, he interned at the progressive think tank, Center for American Progress, and worked for EMILY’s List, an organization that focuses on electing women to public office.
Off-Campus Study Experience: Washington, D.C. Program
Internship: Communications Intern, Center for American Progress
After Hamilton: Research Assistant, Emily's List; Researcher, The White House; Research Coordinator, Snapchat
Rusche spent most of the information session describing his responsibilities as a researcher, a role he held during the final two years of the Obama administration. In explaining the tedious process of fact-checking speeches, vetting individuals for potential meetings with the president, and conducting research for press affairs, he emphasized, “The general mission of the research team and our daily mode of operation was to protect the message and to protect the president.”
Even with the heaviness of the work, however, as a part of a communications team with nine other individuals, Rusche recognized how he was able to learn from and connect with others through the experience. He expressed the importance of maintaining relationships especially through networking, reminding students that the goal of networking is not to make connections with just people who may have higher positions.
“Especially in DC when everything and everyone is connected, it’s really helpful to think of networking as a horizontal game,” Rusche commented. “It wasn’t so much that I had networked with someone at the White House, but I had networked with someone who knew someone at the White House. Those second-degree connections, I think, are a lot more helpful.” Rusche suggested that students take advantage of Hamilton’s vast alumni directory, especially with the amount of alumni in D.C.
After sharing a few lighthearted memories of celebrating holidays, attending special events, and meeting America’s heroes in the White House, Rusche ended his discussion by reassuring students of how vital a Hamilton education was to obtaining the position.
“One thing that you should be confident in is that Hamilton is a really great school, and the things that you’re learning, are involved in, and getting exposure to here may seem routine, but have confidence in talking about it,” he commented. “Hamilton students get to do a lot of things here that a lot of undergrads don’t get to do, and if you don’t bring it up, people won’t ever know.”