FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 19, 2023
Seth Nelson for Pay Our Interns
Pay Our Interns Co-Founder and Executive Director Carlos Mark Vera to Step Down After 7 Years
Since 2016 founding, Pay Our Interns has radically transformed the internship landscape across the United States
Co-Founder Guillermo Creamer Jr. to serve as Interim Executive Director
Washington, DC –– Today, Pay Our Interns Co-Founder and current Executive Director Carlos Mark Vera announced he will be stepping down from his role at the end of October.
Vera and Guillermo Creamer Jr. co-founded Pay Our Interns in 2016 with one clear mission: to end unpaid internships, a systemic barrier that limits opportunity and creates financial burdens for young workers, especially for people of color and those from low-income communities. A first-generation American, Vera is a former unpaid Capitol Hill and White House intern who had to work multiple jobs to take advantage of these opportunities. Pay Our Interns has become the nation’s only organization fighting to ensure all students have equitable access to professional career paths by implementing paid internships countrywide, radically transforming the landscape across the United States.
“When we founded Pay Our Interns, we had no money, jobs, or degrees to fall back on. We did have grit, an arc towards justice, and a vision—a vision where someone’s socioeconomic status did not determine what kind of career they could pursue. That’s what kept me going through the years. And as a result, we helped change how those in our nation’s capital view labor and pay. I am beyond proud to know that the organization I started has helped thousands of young people enter public service who otherwise would not have if they hadn’t gotten paid,” said Carlos Mark Vera. “While my time leading Pay Our Interns is ending, the organization’s work is far from over. The internship economy is a mirror of the inequities in our society, and unpaid internships will continue to exist as long as someone benefits from free labor. The work of Pay Our Interns is needed now more than ever.”
Over the past seven years, Pay Our Interns’ advocacy has led to sweeping change in Congress and the Federal Government, paving the way to end unpaid internships permanently. Under Vera’s leadership, the organization has also played a central role in reshaping societal expectations about internships, where interns working countless hours without compensation is no longer the norm, and a labor market compelling young people to work for free perpetuates large-scale inequality and is unacceptable.
Some of Pay Our Interns’ key accomplishments include:
- Advocating for Congress to pass an appropriation to offer interns a fair wage, signifying the start of a larger change in governmental attitudes towards internships. Every congressional office now has funding specifically earmarked to compensate young people for their work.
- Encouraging the White House to offer paid internships for the first time, setting a precedent for other Executive Branch agencies, including the State Department, which now compensates all interns for their work.
- Promoting the need for paid internships inside state governments, where the movement to pay interns is rapidly gaining momentum across the country
- Influencing the private sector’s attitude towards internships, where an increasing percentage of interns are now paid, marking a significant departure from past trends.
- Changing the public narrative about unpaid internships with coverage in major outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, Politico, and Insider,
“Many of us joined the board because we believe in Carlos’s vision and the organization’s mission. We are proud of the legacy Pay Our Interns has built under his leadership, which includes working with Congress to appropriate $150 million in funds to make public service internships more equitable,” said Pay Our Interns Board Member Jaime Vazquez. “As the organization turns seven, we look forward to building on the success and wins from the past for a more equitable future for the working-class youth of tomorrow. We’re grateful for Carlos’ leadership and wish him all the best in his next chapter. To ensure continuity of mission, we’re pleased to welcome co-founder Guillermo Creamer Jr. back in the interim.”
Co-founder Guillermo Creamer Jr. will return to serve as interim Executive Director as the Board of Directors conducts a search for the organization’s next leader. More information will be released soon about this search early next year.
About Pay Our Interns:
Pay Our Interns was founded in 2016 by two former unpaid interns of color. Pay Our Interns is leading the fight to end unpaid internships across all sectors, with the aim of creating accessible career pathways for young people, particularly those from historically excluded communities. For more information, visit https://www.payourinterns.org.