Editor's note: Intern Spotlight is a Ball State Daily News series profiling Ball State students and their summer internships. If you have any suggestions as to who we should feature next, send an email to email@example.com.
Ball State alumnus Ryan Ritchie said he has always been told to put himself out there, but while in college, he realized it’s a lot easier said than done.
In hopes of following the advice, Ritchie made sure to “start building a brand” for himself early, which led him to his White House internship this past summer.
“[To describe my brand,] I’d say I’m someone who truly wants to make a positive difference in the lives of others,” Ritchie said. “I’m lucky to have had the privilege to do so, and continue doing so, through my experiences in Washington, D.C.”
For two previous summers, Ritchie interned with U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth providing tours of the U.S. capitol, researching legislation, answering phone calls and offering administrative assistance to staff.
During his senior year at Ball State, Ritchie researched other internships in the political field and came across applications on the White House website.
When Ritchie first applied for his internship in the Office of Presidential Correspondence, he said he didn’t think he would ever get it.
“When I did get word that I received it, I was kind of taken back,” Ritchie said. “It was an honor.”
Shortly after graduating in 2018 with a major in business administration and a minor in economics, Ritchie moved to Washington, D.C., where he began working to make sure the White House kept an open dialogue between the American people and the President.
“Every day I walked into the gates of the White House, I kind of had to pinch myself to help myself realize what I was doing was such a big deal,” Ritchie said. “It was such an honor to be able to work with the staff there and get to learn from those people.”
While Ritchie said leaving his friends behind was hard, building connections with his fellow interns only took a couple weeks.
Many would believe that working in the White House is “all work and no play,” but Ritchie said his experience was overall a positive one.
“I think my favorite moment from the internship was when all the interns got together to actually watch Marine One depart from the White House,” Ritchie said. “Watching Marine One takeoff [really] was a surreal moment [for me.]”
Ritchie said he has his Ball State professors to thank for helping prepare him for his internship inside and outside the classroom.
“All of my professors at Ball State really had a hand in preparing me to handle the situations and opportunities I’ve taken on,” Ritchie said. “I think each of them have really been an instrumental part of my journey to getting here.”
Phil DeCicca, a Ball State health economics professor, said he remembers Ritchie as a bright and diligent student.
“He always showed up to class and was obviously a committed student,” DeCicca said. “He’d come to [my] office hours a lot, and I could see his strong interest in public policy.”
Since leaving the White House, Ritchie said he recently got a job as a staff assistant at the U.S. House of Representatives. His goal was to find a job working for someone who shared his passion and wanted to help in similar ways.
Ritchie also said he believes that with his education and experience he can really help benefit the economy.
“I would love to stay involved with what I care about — what I think I have a fresh take on,” Ritchie said. “I can use my knowledge to advance change that will be beneficial to people.”
Ritchie said he was very grateful to work with the staff at the White House and thankful for the opportunity to take on such an important job. Also, he said he appreciates all of his mentors he had while he was there along with his fellow interns.
As advice to other Ball State students, Ritchie said he would not be where he is today if he would not have pushed himself to apply for a position he normally wouldn’t have.
“Reach outside your comfort zone. A lot of people say [they are going to], but actually doing that is a different thing,” Ritchie said. “Put yourself in situation that might make you a little bit scared. I think those experiences for me ended up being the best.”