WASHINGTON (AP) _ White House interns don't earn a cent for their work and often perform such mundane tasks as answering phones and handling faxes. Yet the glamour of working in the government's highest office is attractive to many.

The White House receives an average of 1,500 applications each year from young people trying to land one of the 800 to 1,000 unpaid internships.

Jobs range from office assistant to researcher and don't last very long _ two to three months in the spring and fall and just four weeks in the summer.

Those that are hired are typically between the ages of 18 and 23 and are in college, officials said. The White House tends to hire an equal number of men and women.

To qualify for the job, the interns must have an interest in government and politics and be willing to put in long hours and work hard, officials said.

The majority of internships are not in the White House itself but in the Old Executive Office Building, where many White House offices are located. But each year about a third of the interns land spots in an office in the West Wing of the White House.

For many, it's their first professional experience. Monica Lewinsky, the young women who is alleged to have claimed she had an affair with President Clinton, had just finished college when she landed a White House internship in 1995.

She worked in the office of then-White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta. The internship led to a paid position handling correspondence in the Office of Legislative Affairs.

All intern applicants get a background check, and interns who work in the West Wing are tested for drugs when they are hired and are subject to random drug tests during their tenure.