Experience Doesn’t Pay the Bills in California

In 2019, Pay Our Interns was inspired by Victoria Pfau, an unpaid intern in the California State Legislature. As part of a college midterm in public policy, Pfau chose to tackle issues around unpaid internships, based on her own experiences. With our guidance, Pfau drafted sample legislation called, “The Pay Our Interns Act: Investing in California’s Future Leaders.” Her writing inspired us to launch efforts for a paid internship program in the California State Legislature.

Legislative internships create pathways to careers in public service, but unpaid internships create barriers to those pathways. Our latest research examines the state of legislative internships in California, the majority of which remain unpaid. We’re calling on the Legislature to create a paid internship program, which prioritizes funds for low-income students who have the most to gain, and creates a centralized system of support for interns in the workplace.

Click to view the FULL REPORT

Color of Congress

We teamed up with Dr. James Jones,  lead researcher of the 2016 report for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, to understand how interns are racially represented in the House of Representatives.

Congressional internships pave the way to establishing lifelong political careers. But our research shows  a lawmaker’s race, political party, and the demographic composition of their congressional district all have a strong effect on whom they hire as interns. The majority of congressional interns of color work for members of one of the three minority caucuses, whereas White members of both political parties are more likely to hire White interns, which essentially hands White students an important employment credential. We’re calling on Congress to democratize the administration of congressional internships with expanded funding for stipends, increased engagement with and recruitment from communities of color, prioritization of need-based applicants, and more transparent hiring practices.

Click to view the FULL REPORT

Lack of Transparency Creates Barriers for Young Professionals

Why we’re urging members of the House to update their website information.

Young professionals seeking internships in Washington D.C. experience a variety of barriers in their search process. Compensation is one of the most important factors taken into consideration, and our research reveals only 9% of offices in the House of Representatives provide information about payment of interns on their websites. This lack of transparency is a disservice to people who require payment for their service and disproportionately affects underrepresented communities. We’re calling on members to update their websites with more accuracy and transparency.

Click to view our Full Statement

Experience Doesn’t Pay the Bills

WHY PAID INTERNSHIPS ARE A MUST IN CONGRESS

An internship for a congressperson is the quintessential prerequisite for a political career, particularly if the intern chooses to work in our government later in life. While the internship is an undeniably invaluable experience and is critical for professional growth, an internship in Congress will cost each intern upwards of $6,000, according to an extensive breakdown of the total costs of an out-of-state internship by Time journalist Alexandra Mondalek. The overwhelming majority of internships offered in both the Senate and U.S. House of Representatives are unpaid, creating a situation where the majority of individuals able to work Congressional internships come from families of higher economic status or suffer crippling financial pressure.

We talked to congressmen all over the hill about the internships they offered. We have collected data to create this full list of who pays and who doesn’t.

Click to view the report: CONGRESSIONAL REPORT