Cowboy in the White House: Wyoming rancher interns for vice president
January 4, 2018
A Wheatland Wyo., native had the opportunity of a lifetime last summer when he worked as an intern for U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Tyler Shockley, who grew up on a ranch in Wheatland, saw the internship advertised on the website, whitehouse.gov, and decided to take a chance and submit his resume.
After that, he didn't think much more about it. Then one day he was at the school library when he got a phone call from the vice president's office. Shockley originally thought it was from the University of Wyoming Vice President's Office of Academic Affairs.
Shockley thought he had done something wrong, so when he replied he wasn't entirely enthusiastic.
"Then they said, we're from the White House and I just felt my stomach hit the floor and I was like wow," he said. "They said that they liked my resume and that they wanted me to come out there for the summer and work with a group of interns for the White House."
Shockley flew to Washington a week before the internship start date on May 23. His official start date was May 30 and his last day was Aug. 11. He was assigned to the Operations Office of the Vice President and mainly handled scheduling. He helped with a variety of different events, with the research policy team and the election integrity commission.
There were about 130 interns who worked in all different aspects of the White House. Specifically, there were 11 interns Shockley worked closely with in the vice president's office.
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"I learned a lot about what goes on behind the scenes, and how what you see on the front page of the newspapers or on TV everyday isn't always exactly how things are," Shockley said.
He said that when you are working in the White House you get to see how different things are, and that it seemed as though the media was reporting negative information and not reporting on the positive aspects of the administration. He said that for about every one regulation that was created, about 16 current regulations were dropped because they were slowing down the growth of businesses.
"It's amazing how different things are and it's amazing how many people are working hard and are trying to make this country great again," Shockley said.
After working at the White House, Shockley believes that there are still people who are trying to work hard for this country and that a lot of great positives have come out of the Trump administration thus far.
"Basically everyday was an adventure," Shockley said. "And what we were told is that when you walk into the gates of the White House you're in a place that is a privilege to be there and your time there is limited, so you have to make the most of it."
Shockley said it was humbling to work in a place where major decisions of the free world were made.
During one of his first weeks at the White House, Shockley visited the White House Rose Garden with his supervisor, where the president was giving a speech.
"Things like that happened on a daily basis," Shockley said. "All kinds of crazy experiences like that were common things there."
The White House internship was also an opportunity to hear from many important individuals, who would share how they got to where they are today and the work they are doing for the administration. Some of those speakers included Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and then Chief of Staff Reince Preibus.
ADVICE TO OTHERS
Shockley said the internship isn't just for traditional students. There were many graduate students, undergraduates, individuals who left school and then came back after a few years and students who served in the military.
"A lot of people might criticize you and say why would you want to work there, or they may just think you're foolish and you will never land a position like that," Shockley said. "You just have to step out of the box and give it a try."
Shockley said they are looking for individuals who are talented and have unique experiences and can bring with them different ideas.
Shockley's ranch background helped him handle the responsibilities of interning at the White House. He learned the responsibilities of feeding cattle and breaking ice on water tanks before heading to school and that carried over into his internship.
Shockley said that having the opportunity to meet with the vice president, being able to talk with him and being able to see what happens in the office every week is something he will never forget.
One experience that sticks out was when he toured Air Force Two. While touring, the interns met with military personal, who talked about their careers.
OUTLOOK ON LIFE
Shockley said the internship reinforced his idea that if you believe in something, you need to take a stand for it. He learned that there are many people with good intentions who don't understand the perspective of a rancher from Wyoming.
He discussed with the other interns the importance of the agriculture industry and that there are a lot of people who are misinformed about what farmers and ranchers do.
He said that most people on the East Coast have no clue about where their food comes from. They love going to places like Whole Foods and Trader Joes because they think organically produced food is healthier for them than food grown conventionally.
"I don't think a lot of people really understand the total cost that goes into agriculture," Shockley said. "That was something that was mind-blowing to them."
While at the White House, Shockley said it was important to stand up for your beliefs.
"I think that's really what the people at the White House were trying to do," Shockley said. "Make a positive difference, make things better, and that just reaffirmed — that's what I'll be doing in my life." ❖