Cowboy in the White House: Wyoming rancher interns for V.P. |

Cowboy in the White House: Wyoming rancher interns for V.P.

Katie Shockley
for Tri-State Livestock News
Tyler Shockley, an intern in the Vice President's office in the summer of 2017, tours Air Force Two. Photo by John Pattison

Wyomingite Interns at the White House

Tyler Shockley, a Wheatland Wyoming native, had the opportunity of a lifetime this last summer as he spent it at the White House in Washington, D.C. working as an intern for Mike Pence, Vice President of the United States.

Shockley saw the internship on the website,, and decided to take a chance and submit his resume. After that, he didn’t think much more about it. He was at the school library when he got a phone call. When he answered the phone and they said they were from the Vice President’s office, Shockley originally thought the University of Wyoming Vice President’s Office of Academic Affairs.

Shockley was worried he had done something to cause concern so when he replied he wasn’t entirely enthusiastic.

“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,”– Tyler Shockley, Wheatland, Wyoming native –

“Then they said, we’re from the White House and I just felt my stomach hit the floor and I was like wow,” said Shockley. “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.”

Washington, D.C. Bound

Shockley flew out for Washington, D.C. a week before the internship start date on May 23. His official start date was May 30 and his last day was August 11. He was specifically assigned to the Operations Office of the Vice President and was mainly handling scheduling. He helped with a variety of different events that took place over the summer at the White House, helping with the research policy team and the election integrity commission.

Shockley would normally get to work somewhere between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and the first thing he would do was check the scheduling inbox. He would then take down all meeting requests and log them into the system. This way they were categorized by date, time, and location.

In total, there were about 130 interns who worked in all different aspects of the White House. Specifically, there were 11 interns Shockley worked with in the Vice President’s Office.

Learning Experience

“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,” said Shockley.

Shockley explained that when you are working in the White House you get to truly see how different things are. As he described it, it seemed as if the media was mostly putting negatives out to the public and not really hitting on the positive aspects of the administration. He explained that for about every one new piece of regulation that was created, about sixteen old were taken away 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,” said Shockley.

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.

Humbling Experience

“Basically everyday was an adventure,” said Shockley. “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 explained how it was humbling to be able to work in a place where the major decisions of the free world were made. He explained that in general, one of the best aspects of being at the White House was being where everything was happening.

During one of his first weeks at the White House, Shockley’s supervisor asked him if he had ever been to the Rose Gardens. He ended up going to the Rose Garden’s with his supervisor where they watched the President give a speech.

“Things like that happened on a daily basis,” said Shockley. “All kinds of crazy experiences like that were common things there.”

Another great aspect of the White House internship was the opportunity for all the interns to hear from different speakers. This gave Shockley the opportunity to hear from an assortment of important individuals who could share their story of how they got to where they are today and the work they are doing for this administration. Shockley explained that they would have about two speakers come in a week. Some of those speakers included the Vice President, Mike Pence, Secretary of the Defense, James Mattis, then Chief of Staff, Reince Preibus, and many more.

Advice to Others

Shockley discussed that if you want to apply for this internship, it’s really important to note that you don’t have to be the traditional student. There were many who were graduate students, undergraduate, individuals who went to school and then came back after a few years, or students who served in the military, so it’s an opportunity many can try for.

“A lot of people might criticize you and say why would you want to work there, or they may just think your 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 explained they are looking for individuals who are talented and who have different experiences that allow them to bring different ideas.

Shockley explained that his ranch background helped him handle the major responsibility of interning at the White House. When Shockley was growing up, he learned the responsibilities of feeding cattle and breaking ice on water tanks before heading to school. This need to be responsible carried over into his internship at the White House.

A Memorable Experience

Shockley discussed 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 to Shockley was that he was given the opportunity to tour Air Force Two. He explained when they were on their way to go see Air Force Two, they were able to turn the lights on in the vehicles and pass by traffic to get out there. Shockley, along with the other interns, were able to meet with a bunch of the military personal and had a chance to speak with them about their careers.

An Outlook on Life

Shockley explained this internship really reinforced his belief that if you believe in something you need to take a stand for it. He learned that there are many people with good intentions that don’t understand the perspective of a rancher from Wyoming.

Shockley mentioned he spent a great deal of time discussing with the other interns the importance of the agriculture industry. He continued to explain that with the agriculture industry there are a lot of people who are misinformed about what it is.

Shockley said that being on the East coast is really different. A lot of people would go to the grocery store and they have no clue about where their food comes from. They loved going to places like Whole Foods or Trader Joes because they all think organic food is healthier for them.

“I don’t think a lot of people really understand the total cost that goes into agriculture,” said Shockley. “That was something that was mind blowing to them.”

While at the White House Shockley found that it is vitally important to make sure you stand up for your beliefs, whatever they might be.

“I think that’s really what the people at the White House were trying to do,” said Shockley. “Make a positive difference, make things better, and that just reaffirmed that’s what I’ll be doing in my life.”

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