People told me to expect disappointment working at the White House, but I wasn't too concerned. I was only an intern on the Web team for three months; who gets cynical in three months?

{pic} I got to work in the hallowed halls of the Old Executive Building, meet the occasional mucky-muck and have my fingers on the most famous website in the world, free or unfree. And I can't say it didn't give me a self-important thrill when the suits warned me to never, ever talk to the media.

But forget about three months. I didn't last three days.

On Wednesday of my first week I sent the following disillusioned message to my brother:
It's like a Dilbert cartoon gone terribly, terribly wrong. In the last month 14 people here have quit in frustration. The people in the trenches are obviously hollow shells of what they once were and management is clueless.
Things just weren't what I expected. The people on the team were incredibly talented, but exclusively wordsmiths or techies. There were no artists or designers to make the site as beautiful as it deserved to be. Nobody seemed to have any visions for where it should go. There wasn't even the right hardware and software to run a decent site, because not enough money was being budgeted.

Progress was stuck in the tedious bureaucracy I should have seen coming. Before projects went online they had to be approved by a long list of disinterested suits, so by the time they went live they were no longer relevant. Some very important corners of the site hadn't been updated in years. It was embarrassing, not just to me, I felt, but to the administration, and this was reflected in the hit counts, which fell every month while the rest of the net grew.

Hardest was when I spoke to my father, who thought I was doing exciting and important things during my dream internship. He'd ask what I'd done that day and I'd make something up. I just didn't have the heart to tell him I'd sat on my butt. Why disappoint him, too?

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