Thankfully for Dyer, she says her co-workers and boss at the real estate company pooled their financial resources and gave her more than enough money to cover her living expenses.
“So I had about $15,000 when I went into my internship, but I had no idea that I was getting that until a week before I left for D.C.,” she says, while explaining that she had already made arrangements to rent out a room she found on Craigslist for $350 a month.
Instead of spending all of the money that she received from her job, Dyer saved a good portion of it, which came in handy as she worked to figure out her next career move.
“That money helped me out later on because when I got back from my internship, I actually quit my job,” she says. “I was like, I’ll live on this money until I find something else because I didn’t want to go back… it was the first time I did something so amazing like interning at the White House and I was just like ‘What else can I do?’”
After her internship ended in December 2009, Dyer stayed in touch with White House staff members and was fortunate enough to land a full-time position a few months later. In June 2010, Dyer joined the White House as an associate director of schedule programming, before being promoted to hotel director, deputy social secretary and eventually special assistant to the president and social secretary. During her time as social secretary, she coordinated Pope Francis’ White House visit in 2015, led planning on state dinners with world leaders and booked celebrities for numerous White House events.
Looking back, the 2019 Harvard Kennedy School fellow says she knows that her career journey would not have been possible if it wasn’t for her internship experience. That’s why her hope for the Black Girl 44 Scholarship is to not only provide financial assistance to young Black women in politics and public service, but to also provide the confidence they need to apply for their desired internship.
“We know that money is an issue, especially for Black and Brown people, but for students who want to intern, confidence is a bigger issue,” Dyer says. “And when we have the confidence issue and the financial burden of internships, we know that if students think they won’t get an internship then they just don’t apply.”
Her hope, she says, is that the scholarship “pushes people to the edge in saying, ‘I can do this. I’m going to apply for the internship and I’m going to apply for this scholarship and get it.’”